Splenic laceration post colonoscopy

Case contributed by Dr John Grieve


A well 58 year old lady with a family history of colorectal cancer underwent elective colonoscopy for bowel cancer screening. The colonoscopist reported difficulty with advancing the scope due to significant bowel looping. The scope was passed through to the rectum with the help of manual pressure. No immediate post procedure complication was encountered and the patient was sent home. Day 1 following the procedure the patient represented to the emergency department complaining of severe epigastric pain.

Patient Data

Age: 58
Gender: Female

Splenic laceration with large subcapsular hematoma and free fluid extending around the liver and into the pelvis consistent with hemoperitoneum.  This was considered a grade 3 injury on the AAST speen injury scale

No active extravasation of blood demonstrated.

Small splenic cyst with calcification in its wall is noted.


A laceration is seen extending horizontally across the surface of the spleen.

Case Discussion

This is a proven case of a splenic injury following colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a common and relatively safe procedure most often used to detect colorectal cancer.  Almost 500,000 colonoscopies were performed in Australia last year. Complications may be under-reported but are nevertheless considered rare. The most frequent complication is bowel perforation (0.34% to 2.14%) and bleeding (1.8% to 2.5%). Infrequent complications include pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, appendicitis and bacteremia with endocarditis, as well as splenic injury as is reported here.

This patient was initially managed conservatively but overnight became haemodynamically unstable and on day 2 underwent open splenectomy.

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Case information

rID: 48189
Published: 25th Sep 2016
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Excluded

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