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Clinical Observation
January 1999

Perforation of the Sigmoid Colon Due to Geophagia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa. Dr Woywodt is now with the Franz-Volhard-Clinic, Humboldt University, Charit[[eacute]] Campus Berlin Buch, Berlin, Germany.

Arch Surg. 1999;134(1):88-89. doi:10.1001/archsurg.134.1.88

Geophagia, the habit of eating earth, soil, or clay, is common among African women and frequently encountered during pregnancy. The condition is relatively benign; grave surgical complications are infrequently observed. We describe an adult, nonpregnant, African woman with sigmoid colon perforation and fatal peritonitis due to geophagia. Geophagia is a rare cause of colonic perforation and peritonitis and a high degree of suspicion must be employed to identify this disorder.

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