Cocaine Use and Incarceration: A Rare Cause of Bowel Ischemia, Perforation, and Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage


East Florida


Kendall Regional Medical Center

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date



trauma, crack-cocaine, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, perforation, bowel ischemia


Digestive System Diseases | Gastroenterology | Surgery


Cocaine use is rising in persons ≥50 years old and in black and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. Cocaine-induced bowel ischemia and gastrointestinal injury are deadly findings that have been previously described in the literature. In this report, we present a case of small bowel ischemia, perforation, and upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage co-occurring in a 62-year-old incarcerated male with a 15-year history of cocaine use. The patient presented from jail, peritonitic in septic shock, and was promptly taken for emergent surgical exploration. He was found to have massive fecal peritonitis secondary to full-thickness ischemia and perforation of the jejunum and ileum. Immediately postoperatively, the patient developed a large volume of hemorrhage from multiple gastric and duodenal ulcers refractory to endoscopic intervention, ultimately requiring emergent embolization of the gastroduodenal artery. His course was further complicated by severe septic shock with a blunted response to catecholamine vasopressors. Early recognition and aggressive treatment of the gastrointestinal complications and the unique critical care challenges associated with cocaine use facilitated this patient’s eventual full recovery.

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