Pneumoperitoneum is almost always pathognomonic of a perforated abdominal viscus requiring urgent surgical intervention. Spontaneous or non-surgical pneumoperitoneum is a rare clinical condition arising secondary to abdominal, thoracic, gynaecologic or idiopathic causes. In addition to good clinical judgement, an important component in the management process is to rule out other causes of pneumoperitoneum by performing appropriate investigations. We describe a 60-year-old man who presented with clinical features of pseudo-obstruction, following an injury to his back which was compounded by hypokalaemia. Roentgenography revealed massive pneumoperitoneum and colonic distension. As there were no overt clinical features of peritonitis, the patient was managed conservatively with parenteral nutrition and close observation. A water-soluble contrast enema and computed tomography of the abdomen were of no help in identifying the cause of his pneumoperitoneum but were helpful in eliminating the presence of hollow viscus perforation or an obvious inflammatory focus. The aetiology of pneumoperitoneum in our patient was most likely due to dissection of air through the distended colonic wall, secondary to large bowel pseudo-obstruction. The diagnosis of spontaneous or non-surgical pneumoperitoneum is one of exclusion and we stress the importance of relying on clinical parameters when managing such patients conservatively.
Meckel's diverticulum is a relatively common gastrointestinal entity which occasionally causes complications. Meckel's diverticulum is classically described to mimic acute appendicitis when inflamed as well as being a cause of unexplained luminal gastrointestinal bleeding. An unusual cause of spontaneous non traumatic haemoperitoneum found during surgery performed for a suspected acute appendicitis in a 22-year old female is described. The patient was found to have a significant haemoperitoneum due to a bleeding serosal vessel of a Meckel's diverticulum. The diverticulum was routinely excised. It was macroscopically and histologically devoid of inflammation. The bleeding vessel was not found to be abnormal or part of an arteriovenous malformation.
An inguinal hernia that suddenly becomes irreducible may be secondary to a variety of other underlying conditions which can occasionally mislead the attending surgeon. Benign, inflammatory or neoplastic processes, as well as surgical emergencies such as intraperitoneal or retroperitoneal haemorrhage, have all been previously reported to mimic an inguinal hernia that suddenly becomes irreducible with or without clinical features of strangulation. We add an additional interesting presentation to this list in the form of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which is the first such case reported in the literature. A swelling in the groin may be much more complicated than it seems on superficial consideration and good clinical acumen is constantly required in managing such cases if a satisfactory outcome without any morbidity is to be expected.
Primary malignant melanoma arising in the oesophagus is a rare condition with a dismal prognosis. The diagnosis is often made following surgical resection even though the endoscopic features may be pathognomonic. The classical treatment is oesophagectomy even though the advanced disease stage at the time of presentation and aggressive biological behaviour of the tumour usually results in a fatal outcome. We report the case of a male patient initially diagnosed with squamous oesophageal carcinoma and treated with conventional neo-adjuvant chemo-radiotherapy. Poor clinical and radiological response resulted in a review of the original histology confirming a diagnosis of primary malignant melanoma of the oesophagus. The subsequent alteration in management conferred the patient an improved quality of life. A short review of the literature on primary malignant melanoma of the oesophagus supplements this case report.
Dieulafoy's lesion is an uncommon cause of gastrointestinal haemorrhage. It may present with massive and life threatening bleed and although more common in the upper gastrointestinal tract, it is being increasingly reported as affecting the lower gastrointestinal tract. Diagnosis is usually achieved during proctoscopic and endoscopic visualization. In cases where there is profuse and torrential hemorrhage, angiography may help to confirm the diagnosis. There are a few treatment options available, all of which have a varying degree of success. More commonly than not, a combination of treatment is warranted as illustrated by our case. Recurrent bleeding may occur just as in cases of Dieulafoy's lesion affecting the upper gastrointestinal tract. Even though endoscopic visualization of the lower gastrointestinal tract in the presence of profuse lower gastrointestinal haemorrhage may not be possible, this important procedure should not be omitted as the bleeding source may be lying in a low and accessible location for prompt interventional haemorrhage control.
Primary or idiopathic greater omental torsion remains a rare cause of acute surgical abdomen in adults and children. The aetiology is as yet unknown and the treatment of choice, once diagnosis is established, is resection of the torted omentum. We report our experience with three such cases encountered over the last five years, two of which were diagnosed and subsequently managed laparoscopically. The performance of diagnostic laparoscopy for acute abdominal pain of an undetermined origin may lead to an increased detection of this condition and subsequent therapeutic intervention.