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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fatal Abdominal Compartment Syndrome Due to Constipation: A Case Report


Introduction: Abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) is a rare condition in which increased intra-abdominal pressure causes multiorgan dysfunction through decreased perfusion. Causes of this condition are variable, and early recognition is critical for favorable patient outcomes. Measurement of bladder pressure is recommended for diagnosis.

Case Report: A 64-year-old female on clozapine with a two-year history of chronic constipation presented to the emergency department in extremis with a protuberant abdomen. After resuscitative measures, computed tomography showed a dilated, stool-filled colon with a decompressed inferior vena cava and decreased perfusion. She died despite surgical decompression.

Conclusion: Severe constipation is a rare cause of ACS, and there is a lack of evidence-based guidelines. Options for bedside decompression are limited. To reduce morbidity and mortality in this population, early recognition of ACS is imperative. Initial interventions should support hemodynamics and respiration. Definitive management is surgical decompression.

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