A perforated bowel, or gastrointestinal perforation, occurs when a hole is opened up in the bowel, allowing intestinal contents to flow into the abdominal cavity. This is a medical emergency, and must be treated as soon as possible. The intestinal contents will cause a blood infection if not treated quickly enough, and can result in death.
Causes of Bowel Perforation
Bowel perforation can be caused by a number of different diseases, medical malpractice, and a few other factors. Anything that causes a blockage of the intestines can result in a perforated bowel. The bowel can also be punctured by external forces, such as physical trauma or an error during a surgical procedure.
Causes of bowel perforation include:
- Chrohn’s disease
- Surgical error
- Gallbladder infection
- Error during an enema
- Gastrointestinal Cancer
- Trauma such as a knife wound to abdomen
- Erosion of bowel due to NSAIDS
- Ingestion of corrosive material
- Vaginal mesh erosion into bowel
Symptoms of Perforated Bowel
Sudden and intense abdominal pain can be a warning sign of a perforated bowel. The pain will start at the site of the perforation, and extend across abdomen. The abdomen will swell quickly, and become inflexible and sensitive. The patient will begin to feel nauseous, and may vomit. Fever, chills, headaches, and rapid heart rate are also common. Patients may also experience bleeding, which will result in blood visible in the stool.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Perforated Bowel
If bowel perforation is suspected, x-rays may be taken or CT scans may be performed. White blood cell counts may be elevated, and this can be determined by a blood test. A visibly extended abdomen coupled with evidence of one of the common causes of bowel perforation may be helpful in diagnosing a perforated bowel, as well.
In nearly all cases in which the bowel has been perforated, surgery is needed. During surgery, medical care professionals must flush the fluids, blood, and bacteria out of the abdomen. The perforation in the bowel must then be repaired. If doctors are unable to immediately repair the bowel, colostomy is required. This is when waste is excreted into a bag outside of the body. Colostomy is generally temporary, until surgeons are able to find a more permanent repair for the bowel.
After surgery, antibiotics must be taken to eliminate any current infection. Antibiotics can also help to prevent against peritonis or sepsis. Follow-up visits are necessary following surgery to repair a perforated bowel. During follow-up visits, doctors can ensure the absence of infection, monitor any conditions that may have caused the bowel perforation, and determine patients’ risk of recurrence of bowel perforation.
Prevention of Perforated Bowel
Gastrointestinal health is important for prevention of a perforated bowel. Many of the diseases that cause a perforated bowel can be avoided by eating a healthy diet and doing occasional juice fasts or colon cleanses. Diets lower in fat will promote bowel and intestinal health by relieving or preventing clogs. Juice cleanses and colon cleanses will help to clear toxins and clogs from the gastrointestinal tract, helping to prevent many diseases and health conditions. Olive oil can also be very helpful in keeping intestinal tract free of gummy substances that may cause clogs.
Taking certain drugs frequently without eating can result in corrosion of the stomach lining, intestinal tract, and bowel. Eating before taking these medications is very important, as it creates a barrier between the corrosive chemicals present in the medication, and the sensitive tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. Patients should always follow medication directions carefully to reduce the likelihood of these kinds of side effects.
Handling a Perforated Bowel Caused by Medical Malpractice
Patients that have suffered from a perforated bowel that was caused by medical malpractice should contact an attorney. People that have had a loved one pass away as a result of a perforated bowel that was the result of medical malpractice can also benefit from consultation with an attorney. An attorney will be able to help those who have suffered to understand the legal avenues that may be available to recover medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering.
“Gastrointestinal Perforation.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 25 Jul 2012. Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000235.htm>.
Phillips, Natalie. “Gastrointestinal Perforation.” Healthline. Healthline Networks, 16 Jun 2012. Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://www.healthline.com/health/gastrointestinal-perforation>.
“Perforated Colon: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments.” Colon Health Advise. Colon Health Advise, n.d. Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://www.colonhealthadvice.com/perforated-colon.html>.