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Vol. 22. Issue 2.
Pages 75-76 (March - April 2015)
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Vol. 22. Issue 2.
Pages 75-76 (March - April 2015)
Images in Gastroenterology and Hepatology
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpge.2015.01.004
Open Access
Pneumoperitoneum after Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy
Pneumoperitoneu após Gastrostomia Endoscópica percutânea
Sandra Barbeiro
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Catarina Martins, Cláudia Gonçalves
Gastroenterology Department, Centro Hospitalar de Leiria, Leiria, Portugal
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1Case report

A 68-year-old male was admitted to the Gastroenterology department for elective percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement. The patient had neurologic dysphagia secondary to amiotrophic lateral sclerosis, recurrent low respiratory tract infections and was receiving nutricional support from a nasogastric tube since the previous four months.

A 20Fr PEG tube (Covidien®) was placed by “pull-on-string” technique, with the external bumper on the 3.5cm mark. There were no complications during the procedure or after a 24-hour surveillance period. Enteral feeding with the PEG tube was successfully started. Oral and written educational support was provided to the caregivers.

Four days after PEG tube placement, the patient developed abdominal distension and dyspnea. Complications with feeding, hygiene and PEG tube mobilization were denied by the caregivers. Polypnea and subcutaneous emphysema in the upper and lower left quadrants were noticed, as well as abdominal distension and diffuse tenderness with peritoneal signs. Abdominal plain radiography demonstrated pneumoperitoneum and the internal bumper of the PEG tube in intraperitoneal location (Fig. 1). An exploratory laparotomy was undertaken and a perforation site in the gastric greater curvature was identified, although it was covered by epiplon with engaging fibrin. Surgical washing, raphy with epiplonoplasty and an Witzel feeding jejunostomy were done. The patient recovered successfully after surgery.

Figure 1.

Abdominal plain radiography (supine position) demonstrated free air in the peritoneum and the internal bumper of the PEG tube in intraperitoneal location.


PEG tube placement is a safe and effective method allowing the enteric nutritional support when oral ingestion is compromised.1

Pneumoperitoneum complicates the procedure in 5–16%,3,4 occurring during the tube placement or after early tube mobilization, before fistula path is definitely created (the first 14–20 days).2 The presence of a small amount of air in the peritoneal cavity is a benign finding due to air inflated into the gastric lumen during endoscopy.1 In 85–91% of these cases the course is benign, with spontaneous and quick recovery (mean time to resolution was 2.7 days).1,3 However, pneumoperitoneum can be a sign of a more severe complication, as intestinal perforation. The clinical challenge is the distinction between these two entities.

Thus, the suspicion of pneumoperitoneum requires evaluation and must not always be assumed as benign. The asymptomatic and stable patient should be kept under surveillance and usually no intervention is needed.1,5 However, in the presence of abdominal pain, tenderness, rigidity, progressive distension, fever, hemodynamic instability, leucocytosis or evidence of free fluid in the peritoneal cavity in addition to free air, a surgical attitude must be strongly considered.1,5

In our current case, excessive traction of the tube with release of the internal bumper into the peritoneal cavity and consequent flow of air from the gastric lumen was the probable cause of the pneumoperitoneum. A surgical approach was taken due to the presence peritoneal signs and ventilatory compromise secondary to the severe abdominal distention.

In conclusion, checking for pneumoperitoneum routinely is pointless in the absence of peritoneal signs. Clinical signs of peritonitis are a much more accurate marker of acute complication than the presence of pneumoperitoneum in a postprocedure radiograph.3

Ethical disclosuresProtection of human and animal subjects

The authors declare that no experiments were performed on humans or animals for this study.

Confidentiality of data

The authors declare that they have followed the protocols of their work center on the publication of patient data.

Right to privacy and informed consent

The authors have obtained the written informed consent of the patients or subjects mentioned in the article. The corresponding author is in possession of this document.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

R. Vijayakrishnan, D. Adhikari, C.P. Anand.
Recurrent tense pneumoperitoneum due to air influx via abdominal wall stoma of a PEG tube.
World J Radiol, 2 (2010), pp. 280-282
S.Z. Varela, C.F. Pareja, D.F. Docobo, M.D. García, M.J. García.
Giant pneumoperitoneum secondary to percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy.
Rev Esp Enferm Dig, 99 (2007), pp. 121-122
C.A. Blum, C. Selander, J.M. Ruddy, S. Leon.
The incidence and clinical significance of pneumoperitoneum after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy: a review of 722 cases.
Am Surg, 75 (2009), pp. 39-43
A. Nazarian, W. Cross, G.C. Kowdley.
Pneumoperitoneum after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy among adults in the intensive care unit: incidence, predictive factors, and clinical significance.
Am Surg, 78 (2012), pp. 591-594
S. Milanchi, A. Allins.
Early pneumoperitoneum after percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy in intensive care patients: sign of possible bowel injury.
Am J Crit Care, 16 (2007), pp. 132-136
Copyright © 2014. Sociedade Portuguesa de Gastrenterologia
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