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Gastrointestinal Perforation – What You Need To Know?

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Introduction: what is gastrointestinal perforation?

This is an injury which refers to the occurrence of a hole that forms from the stomach through to the large intestine, the ileum, the rectum or the gall bladder. For obvious reasons, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. When these organs are perforated, the contents of the specific gland are let out into the abdominal cavity. The result is peritonitis, an inflammation of the membrane of the abdominal cavity that occurs when bacteria finds its way to the cavity. This is a life threatening condition and is fatal if not addressed in good time.

What are some of the causes of gastrointestinal perforation?

  • Inflammation of the appendix (appendicitis) which is very common in elderly people.
  • Ulcers which are open sores in the lining of the stomach.
  • Infection of the gallbladder or the presence of gallstones.
  • Inflammatory diseases of the bowels. Crohn’s disease is one such example.
  • Diseases of the digestive system such as diverticulitis.
  • Meckel’s diverticulum where the small intestine contains a tiny swollen region.

The aforementioned are medical causes, but there are also non-medical causes of gastrointestinal perforation. They include:

  • Blunt trauma to the abdominal region as is very common during accidents and could lead to intestinal perforation.
  • A stab wound to the stomach.
  • Surgical procedures within the abdominal region.
  • The use of steroids as is the case with some sporting professions.
  • The use of aspirin as well as non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) especially for elderly persons.

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal perforation?

  • Extreme abdominal pain and the abdomen will feel extremely tender, and feels very painful when touched. The abdomen may also protrude outwards and feel very hard.
  • Fever
  • Emesis
  • Chills
  • Defecation and urination processes may not continue normally, and the user will complain of fatigue.

What is the diagnosis of gastrointestinal perforation?

The diagnosis of this condition is done by checking the condition of the abdominal cavity through X-ray. A CT scan of the precise location of the perforation will go a long way in showing the physician the exact condition of the patient. In some cases, a WBC may be conducted to indicate whether or not there is an inflammation within the abdominal cavity. The treatment of intestinal perforation will involve correction of the hole to prevent the contents of the gastrointestinal system from spilling into the cavity. This can be done anatomically using surgical procedures or by addressing any pre-existing conditions.  If this is caused by blunt trauma, the first thing to do is to get the object out of the victim’s body in a medical setup. In the event that a small part of the intestine is eliminated, the patient will have colostomy done temporarily to enable them defecate normally. This is a manageable condition so patients need not shy away from getting gastrointestinal perforation addressed.

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