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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Case Report: Delayed Presentation of Bowel Obstruction Caused by Blunt Abdominal Trauma


Introduction: Bowel obstruction is a rare but well reported complication of blunt abdominal trauma (BAT). Obstruction is most often seen acutely caused by bowel wall hematomas and chronically as a result of post-traumatic strictures. Here, we present a novel case of BAT causing a subacute obstructing bowel wall hematoma.

Case Report: A healthy, 32-year-old male presented to our emergency department with three days of nausea and vomiting. Chart review revealed he had been seen two weeks prior after a high-speed motor vehicle collision. During that initial visit, the patient had a benign abdominal exam and was discharged without imaging. On this return visit, the patient was found to have a large, obstructing colonic hematoma.

Conclusion: Because emergency physicians care for patients in both the acute and subacute phases of trauma, clinicians should recognize the more subtle sequelae of BAT.

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