Toxic megacolon


  • Toxic megacolon is colonic dilation (>6cm) with systemic toxicity, usually due to an acute colitis.
  • can involve the whole colon or only one segment.


  • Clostridium difficile pseudomembranous colitis
  • Other infections – Salmonella, Shigella, Entamoeba
  • Inflammatory bowel disease — Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease
  • Ischaemic colitis


  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal distension
  • fever
  • bloody diarrhoea
  • shock


  • perforation
  • septic shock
  • death


  •  abdominal Xray or CT scan — colonic dilation (diameter > 6cm, loss of haustra).


Conservative management

  • aggressive fluid resuscitation +/- vasopressor support
  • IV antibiotics (broad spectrum, e.g tazocin)
  • NBM and NG tube for bowel decompression
  • avoid medications that reducing GI motility (opiates)

if there is no response in 24 – 72 hours usually proceed to surgical intervention/ colectomy.


  • Mortality is high, especially if no response conservative management.

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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