n South African Journal of Surgery - Colonic perforation following endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography-associated pancreatitis : case report

Volume 52, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



We highlight a potentially lethal complication of acute severe pancreatitis that may not be suspected in severely ill patients. A 41-year-old woman developed acute severe pancreatitis following endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for suspected choledocholithiasis. When her condition deteriorated dramatically after 2 weeks of intensive medical management, a computed tomography scan and water-soluble contrast enema examination revealed a large colonic perforation and associated collection in the right flank. Surgical management included an extended right hemicolectomy and a second laparotomy to attend to soiling at the surgical site. She survived and was discharged. Colonic perforation is a recognised complication of pancreatitis that carries a high mortality. It may result from a combination of ischaemia to the colon and a direct effect of noxious pancreatic enzymes. Almost all cases are only diagnosed at laparotomy. In view of the current trend of non-surgical management of pancreatitis and associated complications, colonic perforation should be considered in patients who deteriorate or fail to improve. To our knowledge this is the first case of a secure pre-operative diagnosis of colonic perforation due to to pancreatitis.

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