A gastrointestinal perforation is a hole that occurs in the entire wall of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum or gallbladder. The perforation causes the content of these organs to flow into the abdominal cavity resulting in medical shock or death. A gastrointestinal perforation is considered to be a medical and surgical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
Causes of a Gastrointestinal Perforation
A gastrointestinal perforation can be the result of an illness, including the following:
- Bacterial infection
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Gallbladder infection
A gastrointestinal perforation may also be the result of the following:
- Blunt force trauma to the abdomen
- Knife or gunshot wound to the abdomen
- A complication of abdominal surgery
- Dislocation of a stent
- Foreign body
- Caustic ingestion
Symptoms of a Gastrointestinal Perforation
Once an organ has been perforated, it causes sudden, severe pain, a rapid heart rate, sweating, chills and fever and a tender feeling in the abdomen. Most people experience nausea and vomiting as well.
Diagnosis of a Gastrointestinal Perforation
An X-ray of the chest or abdomen will display air in the abdominal cavity, indicating a perforation. A CT scan may be performed to pinpoint the location of the perforation. A blood test may also be performed to confirm an infection.
Treatment of a Gastrointestinal Perforation
Treatment of a gastrointestinal perforation requires immediate surgery to repair the hole. Depending on the condition of the patient, a colostomy or ileostomy may need to be performed. Early diagnosis and treatment will determine the success of the treatment.