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Gastrointestinal Perforation: Is Surgery The Only Treatment Option?

FRIENDS star Matthew Perry is slowly recovering after undergoing the gastrointestinal perforation surgery. In this article, we will discuss, the causes, symptoms and treatment of gastrointestinal perforation.

What Is Gastrointestinal Perforation?

The gastrointestinal tract consists of the small intestine, large intestine, and the stomach. A hole or perforation can sometimes occur in the wall of the gastrointestinal tract due to various reasons. This condition is known as gastrointestinal perforation.

Gastrointestinal perforation is also called as ruptured bowel, perforation of the intestines and intestinal perforation. The condition can cause the contents of the stomach, large and small intestine to seep into the abdominal cavity. This will let the bacteria enter the abdomen which then leads to a condition called peritonitis, an inflammation that occurs in peritoneum - the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen. This may eventually cause sepsis leading to multiple organ failure.

What Are The Causes Of Gastrointestinal Perforation?

A number of diseases can cause gastrointestinal perforation which include volvulus, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, appendicitis, peptic ulcers, colon cancer, gallstones, gallbladder infection, injury or trauma to the abdomen, and ischemic colitis.

What Are The Symptoms Of Gastrointestinal Perforation?

The primary symptoms are severe abdominal pain, tenderness, chills, fever, vomiting, and nausea. And if a person with gastrointestinal perforation develops peritonitis, then fatigue, less urination, shortness of breath, dizziness and rapid heartbeat are experienced.

When Should You See A Doctor?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of gastrointestinal perforation, you should seek a doctor immediately. And in most cases, people require emergency treatment at the earliest, this situation is particularly for someone who has symptoms of sepsis.

How Is Gastrointestinal Perforation Diagnosed?

To diagnose the condition, the doctor will carry out some tests like the X-ray of the chest and abdomen to check for air in the abdominal cavity, CT scan to locate any possible holes, blood test to check for signs of infection and blood loss, assess kidney and liver function, and evaluate acid level in the blood.

What Are The Treatment Options For Gastrointestinal Perforation?

People suffering from this condition require emergency surgery, which will usually involve an exploratory laparotomy. Post this, the surgeon will have to open up the person's abdomen and repair the hole, remove any foreign material from the stomach, large and small intestines. This will help to treat peritonitis and prevent sepsis.

What Are the Complications Associated With Gastrointestinal Perforation?

The complications of this condition include internal bleeding and sepsis which can also lead to permanent bowel damage, wound infection, abscesses in the belly, and a permanent colostomy.

Takeaway Note...

If you have any of the illnesses (volvulus, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, appendicitis, peptic ulcers, etc.) that may lead to gastrointestinal perforation, you should religiously follow the treatment plan provided to you by doctors. This will lower the risk of this condition.

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