Share | - Comprehensive articles covering over 1,700 topics. The articles are organized by the disease, condition overview, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Drugs search, click the first letter of a drug name:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 8 | 9

Terms search, click the first letter of a term name:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Online medical services

Medical dictionary is a searchable dictionary of medical terms from medicine and related fields. Search for medical terms with our medical dictionary.

Drugs & Medications Search our drug database for comprehensive prescription and patient information on 24,000 drugs online. - The Internet Drug Index for prescription drugs and medications.

PMS blog Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), PMS headache

Blue waffles disease, blog. Blue waffle infection, blue waffle disease pictures.



Disease Reference

Click on the first letter in the disease name:

| 4 | 5 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z




Toxic megacolon is a life-threatening complication of other intestinal conditions. It is characterized by a very inflated colon, abdominal distention, and sometimes fever, abdominal pain, or shock.

Alternative Names

Toxic dilation of the colon; Megarectum


This is a complication of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and some infections of the colon. Other forms of megacolon exist and can be congenital (present since birth) or associated with some forms of constipation.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dehydration

Exams and Tests

There may be signs of septic shock. The doctor will notice abdominal tenderness and possible loss of bowel sounds.

  • An abdominal film shows colonic dilation.
  • A CBC may show an elevated white blood cell count.
  • Blood electrolytes may show a low potassium level or signs of dehydration.


The objective of treatment is to reduce the size of the bowel and to prevent swallowed air from further distending the bowel. If this is not achieved or the patient does not improve within 24 hours, a colectomy (surgical removal of all or part of the colon) is indicated.

Fluid and electrolyte replacement help to prevent dehydration and shock.

Use of corticosteroids may suppress the inflammatory reaction in the colon if megacolon has resulted from active inflammatory bowel disease. Antibiotics may be given to prevent sepsis (a severe infection).

Outlook (Prognosis)

If the condition does not improve, there is a significant risk of death. In this situation, a colectomy is usually required.

Possible Complications

  • Sepsis
  • Shock
  • Perforation of the colon

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if severe abdominal pain develops -- particularly if it is accompanied by fever, rapid heart rate, tenderness when the abdomen is pressed, bloody diarrhea, frequent diarrhea, or painful bowel movements.


Treatment of the underlying disease is important in preventing toxic megacolon.

Email to a Friend

Your Name:

Friend's Email:

More about Megarectum -
Aphthous ulcer
Agnogenic myeloid metaplasia
Amyloidosis - cerebral
Testicular ischemia
deQuervains thyroiditis
Angioma cavernosum

Medical dictionary | Natural mosquito repellents | Dust mites pictures | Prescription Drug Information | new 401k rules | Hyperkeratosis pilaris treatment
© Copyright by 2006-2007. All rights reserved