What are hollow visceral organs? What happens when one suffers from a hollow viscus injury? Scroll down to learn about causes, symptoms and treatment of such injuries.
The thoracic cavity, abdominal cavity and the pelvic cavity are the three body cavities that make up the ventral body cavity. Though the term ‘viscus’ refers to a large interior organ which is enclosed in any of these body cavities, this term is mainly used with reference to an organ located in the abdominal cavity. The abdomen refers to the space that lies between the chest and the pelvis. It houses a variety of organs that aid in breaking down the ingested food in a form that can be easily assimilated by the body.
The organs that are enclosed within the abdomen include the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, spleen, small intestine and the large intestine. While some of the visceral organs present in the body cavities are solid, some of them are tube-like. The solid organs of the abdomen include the liver, spleen, pancreas and the kidneys. The tube-like organs of the abdominal cavity include the stomach, small intestine and the large intestine. Such a tube-like organ that is located in the abdomen is medically referred to as a ‘hollow viscus’. In this article, we will look into the causes, symptoms and treatment of a hollow viscus injury.
Causes and Symptoms of Hollow Viscus Injuries
More often than not, hollow viscus injuries are caused as a result of penetrating trauma to the abdomen. If one is stabbed in the abdomen with a sharp knife or any pointy weapon, or suffers from a bullet wound in the abdomen, hollow visceral organs such as the stomach or intestines, may become perforated or may even rupture. In rare cases, one could even suffer from penetrating abdominal trauma during an abdominal surgery, owing to the negligence of the surgeon.
People suffering from medical conditions such as gastric ulcers, appendicitis, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer, may also be highly susceptible to developing perforations in the hollow organs that make up the gastrointestinal tract. When any of the hollow visceral organs become perforated, there is a great likelihood of the contents of the organ to spill out into the abdominal cavity. This may give rise to a variety of distressing symptoms such as pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and bloody or tarry stools. If left untreated, one could even suffer from medical conditions such as peritonitis or sepsis.
The symptoms that one may experience would depend on the extent of injury. In case of penetrating trauma that causes severe blood loss, the slightest delay in medical treatment could cause a life-threatening situation to arise.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hollow Viscus Injuries
Severe damage to the hollow visceral organs is more likely to be caused by penetrating abdominal trauma than by blunt trauma to the abdomen. Injury to these organs can arise if one suffers from blunt trauma during a motor vehicle collision or when one is physically assaulted. Unlike penetrating trauma, where the clinical signs of an injury are quite evident, the effects of injury may not always be very evident in case of blunt trauma. There is however, a greater risk if damage to these organs by blunt trauma, is not diagnosed soon. A delay in the diagnosis and treatment of a perforated viscus can certainly prove fatal.
As mentioned earlier, trauma to any of the hollow organs, can give rise to spillage of the contents of the organ into the abdominal cavity. This may make one susceptible to a blood infection. The patient who has suffered from abdominal trauma must be rushed to a hospital immediately.
The treatment options would be suggested once the doctors have conducted certain diagnostic procedures such as an abdominal ultrasound, peritoneal lavage, or a CT scan so as to evaluate the condition of the patient. Surgery is a necessity in case of penetrating trauma, especially if the patient is losing a lot of blood. Doctors may choose to conduct an open surgery or a minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery.
In case of gastrointestinal perforation, wherein the contents of the ruptured viscus have spilled out, the abdominal cavity would have to be cleaned and the perforation would have to be repaired. Antibiotics would also be administered so as to lower the risk of infection in the abdominal cavity. A person who has suffered from blunt abdominal trauma, must also consult a doctor soon. A series of tests would need to be conducted for ascertaining whether one has suffered from damage to any of the hollow visceral organs.
Now that you have some idea about the serious repercussions of a hollow viscus injury, you would have understood the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, the consequences can be fatal. It is therefore, essential that medical assistance be sought immediately for anyone who has suffered from any type of abdominal trauma.