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Toxic megacolon

  • Alternative Names

    Toxic dilation of the colon; Megarectum


    The rapid widening of the colon may cause the following symptoms:

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

    Signs and tests

    The rapid widening (dilation) of the colon makes this different from other conditions, such as chronic constipation, that can widen the colon slowly and do not cause sudden, life-threatening symptoms.

    A physical exam may reveal signs of septic shock. The doctor will notice tenderness in the abdomen and possible loss of bowel sounds.


    • Abdominal x-ray
    • Blood electrolytes
    • Complete blood count