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Chagasic enteropathy

DOI: 10.1590/S0037-86822004000300012

Keywords: chagas' disease, chagasic enteropathy, physiopathology of the small intestine.

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involvement of the hollow organs of the digestive apparatus can occur in patients in the chronic phase of chagas' disease. the basic mechanism is destruction of neurons of the enteric nervous system. whereas megaesophagus and megacolon are the most notable and most extensively studied expressions of the digestive form of chagas' disease, involvement of the small intestine (chagasic enteropathy) is less frequent and less known than involvement of the two above mentioned entities. chagasic enteropathy can be responsible for important clinical and laboratory manifestations resembling those of dyspeptic syndrome, intestinal pseudo-obstruction and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. chagasic enteropathy also involves peculiar functional changes, especially those related to motor activity of the organ and to intestinal absorption of carbohydrates. in practice, the diagnosis is based on radiographic documentation of dilation of visceral segments. treatment consists of clinical control of the above syndromes and, eventually, appropriate surgical operations.


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