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Peruse Google’s news tab, and you’ll see perforated bowels popping up everywhere these days. The lead singer of ‘80s rock band Great White is suing the group for moving on without him when he underwent surgery for a perforated bowel in 2010. A British bouncer was freed from jail in early April after punching a patron and perforating his bowel. And a recent study states that over an 18-month period, six Rhode Island residents visited the emergency room because they cleaned their charcoal grill with metal brushes, and bristles wound up in their food, gouging their throat, stomach, liver, and bowels.

So, you may wonder, what is a perforated bowel? What causes a perforated bowel? How do I know if my bowel is perforated? What do I do if I’ve perforated my bowel?

A perforated bowel is a hole in the bowel that allows its contents to empty into the body, causing sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection that shuts down the liver, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system.

Bowels can perforate when intestines become overloaded and blocked; when a surgeon nicks a patient’s bowel during a colonoscopy; when trauma occurs to the abdomen via a seat belt during a car accident, a stab wound, or an overzealous bouncer; or when someone swallows something sharp. defines perforated bowel symptoms as:

  • Abrupt and severe pain in the upper or lower abdomen that worsens with movement;
  • Abdominal tenderness or swelling;
  • Back pain;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Hiccups;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Constipation;
  • Fainting;
  • Fatigue;
  • Difficulty breathing; and
  • Rapid pulse.

If you think your bowel is perforated, see a doctor immediately. An X-ray or CT scan will either confirm or allay your fears. If it is perforated, your abdominal cavity will need to be cleaned and flushed with antibiotics to prevent infection. Your bowel will need to be repaired via open surgery or laparoscopy, in which a camera and instruments are inserted through small incisions to the navel. And, in some cases, a patient may need a colostomy, where intestinal waste is diverted to a bag positioned outside the body.

As I stated in my July 2010 blog post on perforated bowel, no medical procedure should result in a cut or tear to the bowels, or at the very least it should be identified and corrected. Otherwise, you should consult an experienced perforated bowel trial attorney, who can determine whether you have a case.

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