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Portal Venous Gas Detected on Computed Tomography in Emergency Situations: Surgery Is Still Necessary

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Portal venous gas (PVG) has been reported to be associated with lethal surgical diagnosis. Recent studies tend to confirm the clinical significance of gas in the portal vein; however, some patients are managed without surgical treatment. The aim of this study was to assess both the diagnoses and the treatment of patients with PVG in an emergency surgical setting.

Materials and methods

We performed a retrospective chart review of 15 patients with PVG in the emergency setting detected by computed tomography (CT) between July 1999 and July 2004. Characteristics assessed included age, sex, clinical presentation, first CT diagnosis of both PVG and the underlying pathology, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, surgical findings, final clinical diagnosis, duration of hospitalization, and evolution of the illness/mortality. All patients were examined one month after operation.


This series of 5 women and 10 men ranged in age from 38 to 90 years at the time they underwent emergency surgical treatment. The mean preoperative ASA score was 4.20. Computed tomography diagnosed the underlying pathology in all cases: bowel obstruction (4 cases), bowel necrosis (9 cases), and diffuse peritonitis (2 cases). The mean length of hospital stay was 12.4 days. The mortality rate was 46.6%; (7 patients).


A wide range of pathologies can generate PVG. Computed tomography can detect both the presence of gas and the underlying pathology. In emergency situations, all the diagnosed causal pathologies required a surgical procedure without delay. We report that the prognosis was related to the pathology itself and was not influenced by the presence of PVG.

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Correspondence to Olivier Monneuse MD, PhD.

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Monneuse, O., Pilleul, F., Barth, X. et al. Portal Venous Gas Detected on Computed Tomography in Emergency Situations: Surgery Is Still Necessary. World J Surg 31, 1066–1072 (2007).

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