Benign pneumoperitoneum after colonoscopy: A prospective pilot study

Jonathan P. Pearl*, Michael P. McNally, Eric A. Elster, John W. DeNobile

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Benign pneumoperitoneum is asymptomatic free intraabdominal air and is reported to occur occasionally with colonoscopy. Management of benign pneumoperitoneum after colonoscopy is controversial and may depend on incidence or etiology. No previous studies prospectively investigated the incidence or inciting factors of benign pneumoperitoneum resulting from colonoscopy. In this study, 100 patients underwent colonoscopy and then radiography of the chest and abdomen to detect free air. The average age was 58 ± 6.2 years, and 48 of the colonoscopies were therapeutic. No cases of benign pneumoperitoneum were detected, estimating the incidence at 0% to 3% for diagnostic and therapeutic colonoscopy. These data indicate that benign pneumoperitoneum attributable to colonoscopy is rare and possibly nonexistent. Given the paucity of data favoring the occurrence of benign pneumoperitoneum after colonoscopy, we advocate treating all cases of free intraabdominal air after colonoscopy as perforations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-649
Number of pages2
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


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