Acute Megacolon, Acquired Megacolon, and Volvulus

  • Marc Stauffer
  • Timothy R. Koch


Marked dilation of the colon to a threshold diameter above which there is risk of colonic perforation is termed megacolon. In this chapter, we will not be considering “toxic megacolon,” which is an acute dilation of the colon associated with colitis. Acute megacolon can occur either secondary to an acute obstructive process or with no evidence for a mechanical origin. Different studies have described the risk of perforation of the cecum in acute megacolon. During acute dilation, the risk of ischemic changes with subsequent cecal perforation rises with diameter of the cecum ranging from > 9 cm to > 12 cm. Colonic ischemia has been reported in up to 10% of patients with acute colonic distention.


Colonic Perforation Colonic Ischemia Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Plain Abdominal Radiograph Sigmoid Volvulus 
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© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Stauffer
  • Timothy R. Koch

There are no affiliations available

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