Published online Aug 28, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i32.7383
Peer-review started: March 27, 2016
First decision: May 12, 2016
Revised: May 24, 2016
Accepted: June 15, 2016
Article in press: June 15, 2016
Published online: August 28, 2016
We describe a rare case of an 81-year-old man who presented with severe epigastralgia. A chest radiograph showed massive free gas bilaterally in the diaphragmatic spaces. Computed tomography (CT) scan also showed massive free gas in the peritoneal cavity with portal venous gas. We used a wait-and-see approach and carefully considered surgery again when the time was appropriate. The patient received conservative therapy with fasting, an intravenous infusion of antibiotics, and nasogastric intubation. The patient soon recovered and was able to start eating meals 4 d after treatment; thus, surgical intervention was avoided. Thereafter, colonoscopy examination showed pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis in the ascending colon. On retrospective review, CT scan demonstrated sporadic air-filled cysts in the ascending colon. The present case taught us a lesson: the presence of massive intraabdominal free gas with portal venous gas does not necessarily require surgical intervention. Pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis should be considered as a potential causative factor of free gas with portal venous gas when making the differential diagnosis.
Core tip: We describe a rare case of an 81-year-old man with pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis (PCI). PCI is characterized by free gas in the submucosal or subserosal layer of the gastrointestinal tract, and its etiology is unknown. The patient presented with massive intraabdominal free gas and portal venous gas (PVG) due to PCI, and he was successfully treated without surgical intervention. When clinicians encounter free gas with PVG, PCI should be considered.