Infectious and inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal system are life-threatening and occur frequently in hospitalized adults. Inflammatory and inflammation-related diseases of the gastrointestinal tract seen in the acutely and critically ill have numerous causes. In acute pancreatitis and toxic infections caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, where severe infections can develop, inflammation plays a causative and crucial role. Severe acute pancreatitis puts a patient at risk for infected necrosis, which can result in septicemia and shock. Similarly, patients treated with antibiotics are at risk for C difficile colitis, which can progress to toxic megacolon. These conditions require volume resuscitation and interventions supported by current evidence. Percutaneous or surgical interventions are often undertaken at a critical point in these illnesses. Patients who require surgery for these diagnoses present challenges for the interprofessional team. Inflammatory and infectious disorders often can lead to complications of systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, and multiorgan failure. New strategies are on the horizon to prevent the onset of and improve care for patients with severe acute pancreatitis, fulminant C difficile infection, and megacolon.

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