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Small Bowel Obstruction Secondary to Strangulation Through a Defect in the Falciform Ligament After Blunt Abdominal Trauma in a Pediatric Patient

Sykes, Joseph A. MD, FAAP*; Norton, Karen I. MD; Bhattacharya, Nishith MD; Stombaugh, Lauretta DO§

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181e15e7d
Illustrative Cases

Obstruction caused by strangulation internal hernia secondary to incarceration within the falciform ligament, although rare, has been previously reported in the literature. These cases, however, were unrelated to trauma. We report on the first case in the pediatric literature of a strangulated internal hernia secondary to incarceration in the falciform ligament precipitated by blunt abdominal trauma. A 12-year-old girl presented to the emergency room less than 24 hours after sustaining a kick to the right upper quadrant. She described sharp, nonradiating, right-upper-quadrant abdominal pain, which was associated with nausea and vomiting. A KUB (kidney, ureter, bladder) view showed a paucity of bowel in the right upper quadrant with distended adjacent bowel. An ultrasound showed a small amount of abdominal ascites and a prominent liver. Computed tomography scan revealed a linear hypodensity at the tip of the right lobe of the liver, suggestive of a laceration. Moderate abdominal and pelvic ascites and multiple collapsed small-bowel loops with diffuse wall thickening and poor enhancement were seen in the right upper quadrant. Significantly, pneumatosis was noted, raising the question of obstruction/volvulus and/or bowel ischemia. An exploratory laparotomy revealed incarcerated small bowel herniated into a defect in the falciform ligament, which was resected. The defect was repaired. Seemingly trivial trauma may play a precipitating role in strangulation in a patient who already has a defect in the falciform ligament.

From the *Division of Pediatric Intensive Care and Departments of †Radiology, ‡Pediatric Surgery, and §Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of New Jersey, Newark, NJ.

Reprints: Joseph A. Sykes, MD, FAAP, Division of Pediatric Intensive Care, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of New Jersey (CHoNJ), 201 Lyons avenue at Osborne terrace, Newark, New Jersey, NJ 07112 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.