Saturday, October 20, 2007

megacolon



A blessedly uncommon but life-threatening disorder, megacolon is characterized by the one-two punch of a massively inflated colon (one), and the accompanying abdominal distension (two). Although generally a complication of bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, megacolon occasionally develops from severe - and we mean severe - constipation.

One such example is on display at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, which collects all manner of medical oddities (from John Wilkes Booth’s thorax to a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland’s jaw). The crown jewel of the Mütter Museum’s collection is a five-foot-long megacolon. Bearing a distinct resemblance to Jabba the Hutt, the monstrosity was removed from a man who, unable to move his bowels, died with 40 pounds of excrement in his gut. (Image: Colonic Association, warning: gruesome!)

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