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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2015 Mar;43(2):244-8.

Gastric rupture following nasopharyngeal catheter oxygen delivery-a report of two cases.

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Department of Surgery, Cabrini Hospital, Malvern, Victoria.
Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Cabrini Hospital, Malvern, Victoria.


Iatrogenic gastric distension and subsequent rupture following nasal or nasopharyngeal catheter oxygen delivery is a rare but life-threatening condition that requires urgent laparotomy. We report two cases recently encountered at our institution. Both patients exhibited symptoms of abdominal pain and distension following oxygen delivery involving a nasopharyngeal catheter during procedural sedation. Oxygen flow rates were 4 l/minute in both cases. The diagnosis was made by urgent imaging. Both patients survived following laparotomy and repair of gastric rupture. Seventeen cases have been reported previously in the literature. We recommend avoidance of nasal or nasopharyngeal catheters and the use of alternative oxygen delivery methods such as nasal prongs and face masks.


abdominal pain; gastric dilation; iatrogenic disease; nasopharynx

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