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Any part of the gastrointestinal tract is susceptible to perforation, and the subsequent spillage of its contents into the abdominal cavity. In some cases, the spillage is blocked by neighbouring organs in direct contact with the site of the perforation.
Both blunt and penetrating trauma can puncture any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Specific causes are known to include:
· Induced vomiting, resulting in damage to the oesophagus;
· Appendicitis, resulting in damage to the intestine;
· Inflammation of the bowel; and
· Ingestion of corrosive substances.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Symptoms follow soon after perforation of the organ, and can include:
· Severe abdominal pain;
· Rigidity of the abdominal wall;
· Nausea; and
Under clinical testing, an increased white blood cell count would indicate an infection. A CT scan of the abdominal region can confirm the presence and location of the perforation.
Any perforation of the gastrointestinal tract is regarded as a medical emergency, necessitating immediate surgery.
Fluids lost are replaced via a drip (intravenously), as are electrolytes. Antibiotics may also be administered intravenously to combat gut flora.