Toxic Megacolon – A Three Case Presentation

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Abstract

Introduction: Toxic megacolon is a life-threatening disease and is one of the most serious complications of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), usually needing prompt surgical intervention. Early diagnosis and adequate medical treatment are mandatory.

Cases presentation: In the last two years, three Caucasian female patients have been diagnosed with toxic megacolon and treated in the Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital, Constanta. All patients had been hospitalized for non-related conditions. The first patient was in chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the second patient had undergone surgery for colon cancer, and the third patient had surgery for disc herniation. In all cases the toxin test (A+B) was positive and ribotype 027 was present. Abdominal CT examination, both native and after intravenous contrast, showed significant colon dilation, with marked thickening of the wall. Resolution of the condition did not occur using the standard treatment of metronidazole and oral vancomycin, therefore the therapy was altered in two cases using intracolonic administration of vancomycin and intravenous tigecycline.

Conclusions: In these three cases of CDI, the risk factors for severe evolution were: concurrent malignancy, renal failure, obesity, and immune deficiencies. Ribotype 027, a marker for a virulent strain of CD, was found in all three cases complicated by toxic megacolon. The intracolonic administration of vancomycin, and intravenous tigecycline was successful when prior standard therapy had failed, and surgery was avoided.

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