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What is a Perforated Viscus?

By Dulce Corazon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An organ with an abnormal opening often is referred to as a perforated viscus. Viscus technically means a hollow organ found inside the body. Examples of these hollow organs mostly are found in the chest and abdomen such as the stomach, appendix, intestines, spleen, gallbladder, and urinary bladder. The term viscus is a singular form, often used in referring to only one organ involved. Its plural term, viscera, generally is used to denote the involvement of many organs.

Hollow organs often have several layers of cells in their walls in order to hold materials inside. Food materials consumed during meals and some acids used in digestion typically are found in the stomach. Digested food and waste materials to be excreted out of the body usually are found in the intestines. The gallbladder generally contains bile and bile acids, and the urinary bladder is mostly a storage site for urine before it is passed out of the body.

Spilling of these materials inside the abdomen usually happens in the presence of a perforated abdominal viscus. These materials often are toxic inside the body cavity, and can place the life of a patient in danger. Bacteria often reach the blood system in most of these cases, thus immediate medical attention and effective treatment generally are needed in such situations.

A hollow viscus perforation can occur in many instances. Blunt abdominal trauma such as those that often happen in road accidents can lead to the perforation of the spleen and other organs. Penetrating abdominal trauma often can reach important organs like the intestines and stomach as seen in those caused by gunshots and stab wounds. Infections sometimes can lead to viscus perforation such as those that occur in a ruptured appendix, ruptured gallbladder, and as a complication of typhoid fever.

Perforated viscus symptoms generally range from moderate to severe manifestations. They mostly include fever, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal distention. Patients mostly are in severe pain with their abdomen feeling rigid or board-like when touched. When prompt treatment for a perforated viscus is not given, patients often develop complications that can be life-threatening.

Open surgery generally is the standard management for a perforated viscus. The use of laparoscopy, which also is known as minimally invasive surgery, also has been utilized with some patients. The nature of treatment often depends on the cause of the perforated viscus and its location, among numerous other considerations.

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Discussion Comments

By pistachios — On Jul 13, 2010

@rolling68- It is important to note that while this and other serious complications occur during the end stage of lung cancer, effective treatment can still eliminate the cancer. End stage does not necessarily mean "terminal."

By rolling68 — On Jul 13, 2010

This condition along with a variety of other complications can occur during the end stage of lung cancer.

The end stage of lung cancer where perforated viscus may occur often comes as the result of small cell carninoma that reaches metastasis.

By medicchristy — On Jul 04, 2010

A perforated viscus can be a very life threatening condition. It requires immediate medical attention and if not treated, can lead to death.

Working with many patients over the years, I have seen this condition numerous times. Perforated viscus can happen for a number of reasons. If a person has received severe trauma to the abdomen, such as a stab wound or gunshot wound, it can cause perforated viscus. Also, people with gastric ulcers can experience it. Women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy or a ruptured ovarian cyst or uterus are at a high risk of experiencing a rupture in their viscus.

Other problems, such as bowel obstructions, hernias, Crohn’s disease, appendicitis, and diverticulitis can lead to a perforated viscus.

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