Radiology: colonic dilation

dilated colon

Note in the radiograph above the extensive colonic dilation.  In the world of hepatology, colonic dilation might be seen with ileus from causes such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (or secondary peritonitis).  It might be seen in a post-operative setting, ie. Ogilvie’s syndrome.  The rule of thumb is that you should be concerned when the colon dilation reaches 10 cm; the right colon may be able to expand a little more than the left.  Decompression with a colonoscope may be indicated. 

For the record, the small intestine does not dilate as much as the colon.  You should worry about small bowel dilation if it dilates > 3 cm.

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