Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45-50

Adult large bowel obstruction: A review of clinical experience

Department of Surgery, JOS University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
A Z Sule
P.O. Box 297, Jos, Plateau State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1596-3519.76586

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Background : Adult large bowel obstruction is an infrequent cause of acute obstruction in Africa and India. The cause of obstruction varies between regions of the world. Current controversy concerns the surgical management of the acutely obstructed left colon. Materials and Methods : This is a prospective study of adult patients with acute large bowel obstruction over a 6-year period. The diagnosis of adult obstruction was made from a history of constipation, abdominal distension, abdominal pain, nausea, and radiographic features of large bowel obstruction. Laparotomy was performed on all patients after resuscitation. If the obstruction involved the right colon resection and primary ileo-colic anastomosis was performed, while for a lesion in the left colon a resection and primary colocolic anastomosis was performed after intraoperative antegrade colonic irrigation. If the obstructing lesions were thought to be malignant and too advanced to merit any excisional or the patient's general condition was too poor to withstand resection, a biopsy was taken and a decompressive bypass procedure given pending the confirmation of the diagnosis. The clinical course and postoperative outcome were carefully documented. Results : A total of 50 patients aged 20-80 years, with a median age of 49 years, presented with features consistent with large bowel obstruction. Of these, 32 had simple sigmoid volvulus and were offered sigmoid colectomy and primary colorectal anastomosis, while 3 further patients with compound sigmoid volvulus had double resection with primary ileo-ileal and colorectal anastomosis. A patient with sigmoid volvulus had a Hartmann's procedure. Twelve patients had colon cancer, four had left hemicolectomy and primary colocolic anastomosis; three, sigmoid colectomy and primary colorectal anastomosis; three, low anterior resection and primary colorectal anastomosis; one decompressive colostomy and one, a right hemicolectomy and primary ileocolic anastomosis. The two patients with functional obstruction (Ogilvie syndrome) had tube caecostomy. All resections and primary anastomosis involving the right colon were preceded by antegrade on-table colonic lavage. One clinical anastomotic leak occurred in a low rectal anastomosis and minor wound infection in 10 patients. Operative mortality occurred in three patients with sigmoid volvulus. Conclusion : Adult large bowel obstruction is infrequent in our community and is caused commonly by sigmoid volvulus. Resection and primary anastomosis of the acute left-sided large bowel obstruction seems safe after antegrade on-table colonic lavage, provided bowel gangrene with peritonitis or any additional risk factor for anastomotic breakdown is not present.

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