Bowel Perforation & Sepsis
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 several 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.
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. Utah malpractice attorney Ryan M. Springer 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. Call Ryan at (801) 502-8735 or complete the online submission form below for a free, no obligation consultation.