The term “viscus” refers to all of the hollow organs in the body: the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, spleen, urinary bladder and appendix. Viscus is singular, viscera is the term used to describe many organs. These hollow organs are made of layers of cells within their walls; these layers keep the contents safely inside the organ. Food and digestive acids are found in the stomach. This digested food and other waste materials that need to be excreted from the body then pass through and are held in the intestines until they are eliminated. The urinary bladder holds urine, and the gallbladder is filled with bile and bile acids.
Any time there is a tear in one of these organs it is called a perforated viscus. When the viscus becomes torn the materials within the organ spill into parts of the body where they don’t belong. Most of these materials are toxic and can cause a lot of harm to the body. Bacteria seems to find its way to the blood when patients have a perforated viscus. Immediate medical attention is needed.
Causes Of Perforated Viscus
- Women who experience an ectopic pregnancy, a ruptured uterus or a ruptured ovarian cyst are prone to rupturing a viscus. Patients with biliary colic and gastric ulcers are also at risk for ruptures.
- Any injury or trauma to your abdomen can cause a perforated viscus. Falling on the abdomen, or having something heavy fall on the abdomen also are risk factors for perforating a viscus.
- Obstructions in the bowel, whether due to fecal impaction, cancer or a hernia can all lead to a perforated viscus.
- Intestinal problems such as diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease and appendicitis can all cause a rupture of a viscus.
- Cardiac patients may suffer from a necrotic bowel, which is usually accompanied by a rupture of the viscus.
- Gun shot wounds may strike a viscus and perforate it with ease.
- There are certain infections, including typhoid fever, which affect the major organs in the abdomen. Any of these organs can be perforated.
Symptoms Of A Perforated Viscus
The most common symptoms of a perforated viscus are: pain in the abdomen, fever, tightness in the abdomen when touched, a drop in blood pressure, an increase in the heart rate, abdominal distention, and nausea that may lead to vomiting. Because there are so many reasons for a perforated viscus, and there are so many different organs that could be involved, it is really hard to describe all the symptoms fully. Sometimes the pain and symptoms are severe, sometimes they are very mild.
Treating a Perforated Viscus
As the contents of a perforated viscus leak into surrounding areas, bacteria enters the peritoneal cavity. Untreated, this bacteria may make its way into the blood stream, causing lethal sepsis. Surgery is the only option when a perforated viscus is leaking. All the contents must be removed in the peritoneal cavity or further complications may develop. Before and after surgery, all patients must take a healthy dose of antibiotics to prevent any complications that may turn fatal.