Author(s): Nava Kishore1, C. Arpitha2, Ananda Reddy C3
Sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis (SEP) is a relatively rare cause of intestinal obstruction resulting from encasement of variable lengths of bowel by dense fibro-collagenous membrane. It is more common in young females, and shows tropical and sub-tropical distribution. The idiopathic cases of SEP, which lack any identifiable cause from clinical, radiological and histopathological findings, are also reported under the descriptive term “abdominal cocoon syndrome”. SEP presents with acute or sub-acute intestinal obstruction with or without a mass. In the era of laparoscopic surgery, inadvertent damage to the small bowel at insertion of the trocar and cannula can occur by being unaware of this condition resulting in unnecessary bowel resection. Persistent untreated SEP may advance to bowel gangrene or intestinal perforation, representing life threatening conditions.
We report the clinical presentation of a 75-year-old female presenting with signs of intestinal obstruction whose imaging findings revealed abdominal cocoon with bowel gangrene leading to perforation and the same confirmed at surgery. Surgical excision of the fibrotic sac encasing the bowel, resection of gangrenous bowel segment and end ileostomy was performed. Histopathology of the excised membrane confirmed sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis.
To our knowledge, only a few cases of abdominal cocoon with perforation have been reported in literature so far. Radiologists should be aware of this relatively rare cause of intestinal obstruction, its imaging findings and complications, as preoperative diagnosis will prevent delay and aid in treatment planning to the surgeon. Identification of soft tissue density membrane encasing congregated small bowel loops into a single area on computed-tomography gives diagnostic clue. Surgical excision of sac, release of bowel loops and adhesions with partial intestinal resection when necessary is the treatment.