Emphysematous gastritis associated with gastric cancer: a rare and fatal entity

BMJ Case Rep. 2019 Dec 2;12(12):e231796. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2019-231796.


Emphysematous gastritis is a rare disease characterised by air in the wall of the stomach due to gas-forming microorganisms. This is a highly lethal entity for which only prompt diagnosis and treatment can avoid mortality. Different factors have been described that disrupt the integrity of the mucosa such as corrosive ingestion, alcohol abuse, recent abdominal surgery or cancer. We report a case of emphysematous gastritis in a 92-year-old woman who presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Inflammatory markers were elevated and abdominal X-rays showed intramural gastric air, confirmed by CT scan. The patient received intravenous fluids, nutritional support and broad-spectrum antibiotic with resolution of gastric wall emphysema. However, the diagnosis of poorly cohesive gastric adenocarcinoma was made and the patient was referred to palliative care. This case highlights the importance of prompt recognition of this lethal entity that represents a rare and aggressive presentation of gastric cancer.

Keywords: gas/free gas; stomach and duodenum.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emphysema / complications
  • Emphysema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Gastritis / complications
  • Gastritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Pancreatitis / etiology
  • Parenteral Nutrition / adverse effects
  • Stomach Neoplasms / complications
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed