Early Pneumoperitoneum After Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy in Intensive Care Patients: Sign of Possible Bowel Injury

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Although percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy may be complicated by iatrogenic bowel injury, most clinicians consider a small pneumoperitoneum on radiographs obtained after the procedure a benign finding of little clinical consequence. The possibility of a relationship between findings of early pneumoperitoneum after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy and subsequent iatrogenic bowel injury was examined.


Charts of 85 patients in a surgical intensive care unit who had undergone percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy between 2000 and 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. All patients had a follow-up upright chest radiograph obtained after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. The charts of 4 patients with radiographs that showed early pneumoperitoneum were reviewed.


Findings were clinically significant in 1 of the 4 patients. That patient had a perforated transverse colon that required surgical repair. The other 3 patients had no complications.


Pneumoperitoneum after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy may be a sign of possible bowel injury and requires further evaluation. It should not be dismissed as benign. Obtaining a chest radiograph after a patient has undergone percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy is essential. (American Journal of Critical Care. 2007;16:132-136)

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