Pneumoperitoneum in a premature neonate

Case contributed by Nafisa Shakir Batta


27th week premature neonate with resolving hyaline membrane disease, shows sudden abdominal distension.

Patient Data

Age: 8 days
Gender: Male

Supine radiograph clearly illustrates the lucent liver sign, liver edge sign, doge cap sign, Rigler sign of free intraperitoneal air.

Assisted erect radiograph demonstrates the cupola sign, continuous diaphragm sign, falciform ligament sign.

A shoot-through lateral x-ray in the right decubitus position reveals large amounts of free air layering to the left side.

Case Discussion

Laparotomy revealed a solitary ileal perforation.

Pneumoperitoneum is a surgical emergency, and hence its imperative to be familiar with a radiograph appearance of free intraabdominal air on erect, supine and lateral decubitus views. The importance of supine radiographic interpretation has been emphasized in neonates and infants where erect X-rays are seldom opted for.

Various signs have been described on supine and erect radiographs, namely

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