Clinical Presentation: Sudden Abdominal Pain
A 74-year-old woman presents with sudden onset of abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.
History and Physical Examination
History. The patient fell ill 48 hours before admission. Initially, she experienced weakness, then developed nausea and had an episode of vomiting.
Within 24 hours, she was having fevers, rigors, high-volume bloody diarrhea with severe cramps, and bloating. She was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and acute gastroenteritis. After results of colonoscopy, she started treatment with prednisone.
History revealed the following:
Medical history: hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism
Medications: proton-pump inhibitor, thiazide diuretic, thyroid replacement, oral hypoglycemic agent
Habits: neither smokes or drinks alcohol
Pets: 2 indoor cats
Diet: regular, with a propensity for "natural" foods
Travel: 1 month ago, went to Mexico to visit Catholic shrines
Social: lives alone; minimal contact with the healthcare system
Immunizations: up to date
Sports/water exposure: consumes a "dollop" of holy water every day, from plastic jugs she filled in Mexico
Infectious disease exposure: nothing else of significance
Physical examination. The following were noted:
Vital signs: temperature, 102° F; pulse, 122 beats/min; respiratory rate, 12 breaths/min; blood pressure, 90/40 mm Hg (improving to 120/60 mm Hg after receipt of several liters of intravenous normal saline)
Abdomen: distended, and tender, with slight rebound
Laboratory results. The following values were obtained:
WBC count: 3.5 × 103 cells/mm3
Hemoglobin level: 9.8 g/dL (was 11.5 g/dL 2 months ago)
Differential: 55% bands
Serum sodium level: 128 mEq/L
Creatinine level: 3.1 mg/dL
Bilirubin level: normal
Aminotransferase levels: normal
Stool: sheets of WBCs
Imaging. The following were noted:
Flat plate of abdomen: air-fluid levels and distention
CT: pancolitis with dilated, thick-walled bowel
Colonoscopy. Findings on colonoscopy are grossly consistent with acute ulcerative colitis. Results of biopsy are pending.
Medscape Infectious Diseases © 2012
Cite this: A Cryptic Case of Acute Colitis - Medscape - Jun 06, 2012.