WHILE pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis is not a common condition, it occurs frequently enough to warrant the attention of the clinician, because its unique features should readily lead to its recognition. Moreover, while the exact mode of its origin is not clear, the condition seems causally related to other commoner disorders; in such cases, awareness of the existence of pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis may aid in the diagnosis or therapy of the associated disease.
This condition involves the presence of gaseous cysts of varying size within the walls of the stomach and of the intestine. If, as often occurs, some of the cysts rupture, air enters the peritoneal cavity, leading to the clinical and roentgenologic picture of pneumoperitoneum, which may prompt the erroneous diagnosis of perforation of a viscus. The roentgenographic appearance of gaseous cysts, with or without pneumoperitoneum, is so characteristic that the correct diagnosis should not be missed.