The large intestine, which is also referred to as the colon, consists of the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum. The large intestine plays an important role in the process of excretion or removal of wastes from the body. If any part of the colon gets affected, it would naturally have serious repercussions on one's health. A perforated colon is one such medical condition that can affect the colon. A perforation or a hole in the intestinal wall can cause the contents of the colon to seep into the abdomen.
If these waste materials leak into the abdomen, it may lead to the inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Perforated colon surgery may be required to prevent the serious complications that may result from the development of perforations in the colon. Scroll down to learn about the surgery for perforated colon along with the circumstances under which one may suffer from a perforated colon.
What Causes a Perforated Colon?
A perforated colon could be caused due to a wide range of reasons. Medical conditions that may cause a perforated colon include appendicitis, ulcers, ulcerative colitis, superior mesenteric artery syndrome, colon cancer, diverticulitis, roundworm infestation or trauma to the abdomen. At times, trauma to the colon may result from the insertion of instruments during diagnostic procedures such as barium enema, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Besides the aforementioned causes, one could even suffer from a perforated colon as a result of swallowing a bone or an object.
Well, whatever be the underlying cause of a perforated colon, it is extremely important that this condition be treated at the earliest. Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, blood in stool, tarry stools, loss of appetite and a change in bowel habits are some of the common symptoms of this condition. There is a high risk of one developing peritonitis or blood infection in an absence of medical treatment. It is therefore important that a perforated bowel surgery be performed to correct the defect in the intestinal wall at the earliest.
Surgery for a Perforated Colon
Although the use of antibiotics may be recommended as a part of the treatment, the implications of the leakage of the contents of colon into the abdomen make surgery a necessity. The aim of this surgery is to repair the perforation. Since the contents of the colon may have leaked into the abdomen, it's absolutely essential to clean the abdominal cavity. X-ray examination, CT scans or colonoscopy may be performed so as to locate the perforation. These tests will also help the doctors determine the type of surgery that may be suitable for the patient. Before the perforation is repaired, a nasogastric suction tube is used for drawing the waste out of the intestine. Hartmann's solution is also administered in order to normalize the fluid concentration.
Intravenous administration of antibiotics and analgesics are usually administered in order to lower the risk of complications. While a larger incision is made in order to access the colon in case of an open surgery, laparoscopic surgery is performed by inflating the abdomen with carbon dioxide and making smaller incisions. The internal organs are then viewed by inserting into the incision a laparoscope that is attached with a mini camera.
Besides the repair of the perforation, surgeons may also treat any other existing anatomical problem. At times, a part of the colon may have to be removed as well. This is usually required in case of colon cancer. Once the abdomen and the peritoneum are cleaned and the perforation is repaired, the incision will be closed. The time one may take to recover from this surgery usually depends on the size of the perforation. If the surgery was performed at the right time, the patient may take a couple of months to recover from this surgery.
If perforated bowel had already caused an infection, one may take longer to recover. Under these circumstances, strong antibiotics are prescribed so as to treat the infection and speed up the healing process after the surgery. Certain precautions must also be taken during the recovery period. The patient must not indulge in any strenuous physical activities as he/she recuperates. The patient must also adhere to the guidelines regarding proper diet, drug therapy along with other aftercare measures given by the doctor. If a serious medical condition is behind the development of the perforation, extensive long-term treatment may be required to treat the underlying cause.
After going through this information on perforated colon surgery, you would have understood the importance of a timely treatment for a perforated bowel. A perforated colon is a serious condition and if left untreated, may turn into a life-threatening condition. Those who have been surgically operated upon for this condition, must therefore, follow all the guidelines given by the doctor. Following a healthy fiber-rich diet and staying physically active are right lifestyle choices you need to make. This will ensure proper bowel health and certainly make you less susceptible to developing this bowel condition in future.