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Am J Emerg Med. 2009 Feb;27(2):255.e5-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2008.06.033.

Marathon-induced ischemic colitis: why running is not always good for you.

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Department of Colorectal Surgery, University College Hospital NHS Trust, NW1 2BU London, UK.


We present the case of a 31 year-old man who presented to the emergency department of University College Hospital London after collapsing upon finishing the London marathon. Contrast-enhanced multidetector computed tomography scanning revealed ischemic colitis of the cecum and ascending colon, which progressed to the development of clinical peritonism after 48 hours. This patient subsequently underwent a laparotomy and right hemicolectomy, with ileostomy formation, on the third day after admission. Operative and histologic findings confirmed ischemic colitis of the cecum and proximal colon. The postoperative recovery was uneventful, and he was discharged home well. Possible mechanisms of ischemia in marathon runners and those undergoing intense exercise include a combination of splanchnic vasoconstriction, dehydration, and hyperthermia, combined with mechanical forces. Most patients presenting with marathon-running-induced ischemic colitis respond to conservative treatment and the need for operative intervention is extremely rare.

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