Stercoral Colitis in the Emergency Department: A Retrospective Review of Presentation, Management, and Outcomes

Link to article at PubMed

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 Mar 23:S0196-0644(23)00098-7. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.02.003. Online ahead of print.


STUDY OBJECTIVE: Stercoral colitis is inflammation of the bowel wall caused by fecal impaction. Despite reported high morbidity and risk of perforation, little research assessing outcomes is available. This study characterizes the presentation, management, and outcomes of emergency department patients with stercoral colitis.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of ED patients with stercoral colitis identified on computed tomography (CT) scan. Of 814, 522 visits to multiple EDs across the US, 269 met the inclusion criteria. Variables regarding patient presentation, management, and outcomes were extracted from electronic medical records. Results were analyzed with percentages and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

RESULTS: Of 269 patients, the median age was 76 years. The most common chief concern was abdominal pain/distension (33.8%). However, abdominal pain was documented as absent in 62.1% of cases. The most common CT findings included fecal impaction (96.7%), bowel wall inflammation (72.9%), and fat stranding (48.3%). Eighty-four (31.2%) patients were discharged home from the ED, and over half of these (45/84, 53.6%) received no enema, laxatives, or disimpaction. Overall, 9 patients (3.3%, 95% CI 1.6% to 6.5%) required surgical management of a related complication within 3 months, 27 (10.0%, 95% CI 6.8% to 14.4%) returned to the ED within 72 hours, and 9 (3.3%, 95% CI 1.6% to 6.5%) died from a cause related to stercoral colitis within 3 months.

CONCLUSION: Patients with stercoral colitis often present in a nonspecific manner, and short-term mortality is substantial. In this study, most discharged patients did not receive recommended treatment. This represents the largest ED study of stercoral colitis and provides further evidence linking this diagnosis with adverse outcomes.

PMID:36966044 | DOI:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.02.003

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