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Distention of the colon's splenic flexure


Alternative names

Colon splenic flexure distention

Definition

Enlargement of the splenic flexure which is beyond the limits of normal colonic distention.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

This is usually caused by infection (tuberculosis, amebiasis ), inflammation ( ulcerative colitis , Crohn's disease ), twisting of the colon (torsion, volvulus) or cancer causing obstruction. If the colon does not contract properly (ileus) the splenic flexure can become distended.

Symptoms

Symptoms of fever , rapid heart rate , abdominal pain and tenderness , and a palpable mass are caused when the splenic flexure becomes ballooned.

Signs and tests

Splenic flexure distention may be identified by the following studies:

  • Abdominal X-ray
  • Barium enema
  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal MRI

Treatment

Treatment is based upon decompressing the colon and treating the underlying cause of distention. This may be done with a rectal tube for decompression, or a colonoscopy to remove excess air in the colon. Occasionally a surgery may be performed to remove a cause of obstruction or to prevent perforation.

Expectations (prognosis)

Prognosis is generally good if an underlying cause of distention can be identified and treated.

Complications

Complications are primarily perforation (hole in the colon) and infection.

Calling your health care provider

Symptoms of abdominal pain, abdominal distention, or fever occur.

Prevention

There are no methods of preventing splenic flexure distention.

Update Date: 4/25/2002

Andrew J. Muir, M.D. M.H.S., Division of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT
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