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Rare postoperative complication: Clostridium perfringens septic shock following elective abdominal surgery
  1. Michael Bath1,
  2. Mark McKelvie2,
  3. Khalid Canna1
  1. 1Department of General Surgery, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Bedford, UK
  2. 2School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mark McKelvie, markmckelvie{at}


Postoperative infections are one of the most common complications in general surgery, and while rates have reduced with the routine administration of perioperative antibiotics, around 5% of patients undergoing a surgical procedure will develop an infective complication.1 The Gram-positive, obligate anaerobe, Clostridium perfringens, is a well-known pathogen that forms part of both the environmental and gastrointestinal flora.2 While more commonly associated with food poisoning, anaerobic cellulitis and traumatic gas gangrene, rare cases of spontaneous non-traumatic gas gangrene of abdominal viscera have also been recorded.3 Although potentially treatable with appropriate antibiotic cover, cases of C. perfringens can rapidly progress into fulminant and fatal sepsis.4 Moreover, the timing of symptom onset postoperatively can vary significantly, reports ranging from hours to days.5 6 We report a case of C. perfringens-induced septic shock following elective bowel resection.

  • Gastrointestinal Surgery
  • General Surgery

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  • Contributors MB and MMK: joint primary authors. Equal contribution towards the manuscript including conception of the work and drafting and revision of the article. KC: critical revision of the article. All authors: final approval of the version to be published.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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