American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Illicit Drug, Ischemic Bowel

colon.gr1.smlIn the young adult or middle-aged patient with abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, a history of cocaine abuse is an important consideration in the differential diagnosis, as illustrated in this case.

A 44-year-old male construction worker presented to our general medicine clinic reporting 1 year of recurrent, sharp, left-sided abdominal pain associated with frequent loose stools. For a few days before presentation, he had been unable to sleep because of the pain. The painful episodes were associated with some rectal bleeding and a documented weight loss of 40 lb but no nausea, vomiting, abdominal distension, food intolerance, or change in appetite. The patient denied urinary problems (hematuria, frequency, urgency, dysuria) and fever. His medical and surgical history were unremarkable except for an appendectomy 15 years previously; he had never had a colonoscopy. His social history was significant for smoking (20 pack-years) and occasional alcohol use. He denied use of illicit drugs.

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— Khaldoon Shaheen, MD, M. Chadi Alraies, MD, Houssam Marwany, MD, Emmanuel Elueze, MD, PhD

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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