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BACKGROUND: The computed tomographic (CT) finding of caecal pneumatosis in patients with malignant large bowel obstruction has been associated with ischaemia and impending perforation. Emergency surgery is then usually performed without consideration of endoluminal stenting. The aim of our study was to correlate caecal viability to the CT finding of caecal pneumatosis in patients with acute malignant large bowel obstruction. METHODS: A retrospective review of the CT scans of all patients presenting with acute malignant large bowel obstruction was performed. Patients with CT evidence of caecal pneumatosis were identified and this was correlated with intraoperative and histopathological findings. RESULTS: There were 10 patients who had caecal pneumatosis on their CT scans between 2007 and 2010. Five underwent immediate surgery while the other five had emergency endoluminal stenting performed. One failed the stenting procedure and proceeded to emergency surgery. The other four were stented successfully and underwent interval surgery in an elective setting. In the six patients who underwent emergency surgery, four were found to have a viable caecum intra-operatively and underwent a segmental resection. The remaining two had an ischaemic caecum--one had curvilinear pneumatosis and the other had a predominantly bubbly pattern of pneumatosis on their CT scans. CONCLUSION: Caecal pneumatosis alone is not a reliable predictor of caecal viability in patients with acute malignant large bowel obstruction. Such a finding on CT scan should be correlated clinically before excluding the role of endoluminal stenting.

Original publication




Journal article


ANZ J Surg

Publication Date





772 - 775


caecum, colon cancer, intestinal obstruction, pneumatosis, stenting, Adult, Aged, Cecum, Contrast Media, Emergencies, Female, Humans, Intestinal Neoplasms, Intestinal Obstruction, Male, Middle Aged, Pneumatosis Cystoides Intestinalis, Retrospective Studies, Stents, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Treatment Outcome