Acute Colonic Pseudo-Obstruction in Severe Falciparum Malaria: A Case Report

Peng Fei Yao, Peng Jiang Zhang, He Dong, Yang Sun


Severe falciparum malaria is associated with multiple organ dysfunctions. The most manifestations of severe falciparum malaria are cerebral malaria, acute lung injury, and acute kidney injury. Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction is extremely rare. Early recognition and management are essential because a delay in diagnosis is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. A 29-year-old peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was diagnosed as severe falciparum malaria with high-grade fever, jaundice, electrolyte disturbance, and thrombocytopenia. Although adequate antimalaria therapy with intramuscular artemether was given, the patient had persistent fever, shallow and fast breathing, and abdominal pain. Investigations suggested a diagnosis of acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. Antimalarial therapy was continued with intravenous artesunate. And rectal decompression and fasting were taken. Soon, symptoms of colonic obstruction mitigated. And the patient was cured and discharged. Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction should be considered for severe malaria patients with abdominal distention and pain. The early diagnosis and proper management of the patient with severe malaria complicated with acute colonic pseudo-obstruction are the keys to a good prognosis.

J Med Cases. 2021;12(12):481-484


Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction; Malaria; Severe

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