What causes sepsis following colorectal surgery for lower gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding and how is it treated?

Updated: Jul 26, 2019
  • Author: Burt Cagir, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Intra-abdominal sepsis following colorectal surgery is a life-threatening complication and requires aggressive resuscitation. Systemic conditions (eg, severe blood loss and shock, poor bowel preparation, irradiation, diabetes, malnutrition, hypoalbuminemia) may adversely affect anastomotic healing. Changes in the anatomy and physiology of the large bowel, high bacterial content, improper operative technique, tension at the anastomosis, and ischemia can cause anastomotic leak associated with abscess and intra-abdominal sepsis. This condition requires either laparotomy (if the sepsis is generalized) or percutaneous drainage (if the sepsis is localized).

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