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Toxic megacolon

  • Alternative Names

    Toxic dilation of the colon; Megarectum


    You will receive fluids and electrolytes to help prevent dehydration and shock. The process that leads to megacolon can be treated medically first. However, this is usually not enough to reverse the megacolon.

    If rapid widening is allowed to continue, an opening (perforation) can form in the colon. Therefore, most cases of toxic megacolon will require surgery, such as colectomy (removal of the entire colon).

    You may receive antibiotics to prevent sepsis (a severe infection).

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

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

    • Perforation of the colon
    • Sepsis
    • Shock

    Calling your health care provider

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you develop severe abdominal pain -- especially if you also have:

    • Bloody diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Frequent diarrhea
    • Painful bowel movements
    • Rapid heart rate
    • Tenderness when the abdomen is pressed