Gastrointestinal perforation is a hole that develops through the wall of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large bowel, rectum, or gallbladder. This condition is a medical emergency.
Gastrointestinal perforation can be caused by a variety of illnesses. These include:
Peptic ulcer disease
It may also be caused by abdominal surgery.
Perforation of the intestine causes the contents of the intestines to leak into the abdominal cavity. This causes a serious infection called peritonitis.
Symptoms may include:
Severe abdominal pain
X-rays of the chest or abdomen may show air in the abdominal cavity. This is called free air. It is a sign of a tear. A CT scan of the abdomen often shows where the hole is located. The white blood cell count is often higher than normal.
Treatment most often involves surgery to repair the hole. Sometimes, a small part of the intestine must be removed. A temporary colostomy or ileostomy (to drain the small or large intestine) may be needed.
In rare cases, people can be treated antibiotics alone if the perforation has closed. This can be confirmed by a physical exam, blood tests, CT scan, and x-rays.