Septicemia Secondary to Ileus in Trauma Patients: A Human Model for Bacterial Translocation

Niveen Hanna, MD, FACS; Christie Bialowas, MD; Carolyn Fernandez, RN, MSN, APRN-BC


South Med J. 2010;103(5):461-463. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Paralytic ileus is a common problem in trauma patients. We present two cases of ileus leading to septicemia. Both patients developed sudden septicemia on hospital day six and underwent urgent exploratory laparotomies, and both were found to only have paralytic ileus without evidence of bowel injury or obstruction. We attribute the cause of septicemia to bacterial translocation secondary to ileus.


Bacterial translocation has been implicated as a potential etiology for sepsis in multiply injured trauma patients. Most often, it is found with intestinal manipulation, obstruction, open fractures and burns. Although multiple animal studies have shown associations with bacterial translocation, human studies remain sparse. We present two cases in humans who both developed a severe ileus following blunt torso trauma, which support bacterial translocation as the root cause for septicemia.