This is a life threatening complication of other intestinal conditions that causes rapid widening of the large intestine. It generally occurs as a complication of inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease and other infections or colitides.
As a result of inflammation progression through the release of cytokines like nitric oxide by inflammatory cells, the smooth muscle layer of the colon begins to lose muscle tone. When no peristalsis occurs, the proximal region begins to dilate as fecal matter and air collects. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, abdominal distention, abdominal tenderness, fever, rapid heart rate or shock.