Management of barium enema-induced colorectal perforation

N. S. Hakim, M. G. Sarr, C. E. Bender, S. Nivatvongs

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25 Scopus citations


Unless recognized and treated promptly, colorectal perforation induced by barium enema examination is a life-threatening complication. Between 1977 and 1986, 13,000 barium enemas were performed at the Mayo Medical Center. Colorectal perforation occurred in five patients (overall incidence: 0.04%). The two colonic perforations were managed by immediate celiotomy with resection in one and primary repair in the other. The three rectal perforations were managed conservatively in two patients and by proximal diversion in one. All patients recovered. Perforations were believed to be related to the tip of the enema catheter or presumably to excessive hydrostatic pressure. In contrast to other reports, barium enema-induced colorectal perforation is not always fatal when recognized early and treated aggressively. Localized, contained extraperitoneal rectal perforation may be managed conservatively in selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-676
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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