Gastrointestinal problems are common medical complaints, but in some cases they require immediate surgery to fix the problem and avoid life-threatening complications. When the problem is addressed quickly, most urgent gastrointestinal problems can be fixed without long-term concerns.
Appendicitis is frequently seen in emergency room settings. The key symptoms of appendicitis are lower-right abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. It is easy to overlook appendicitis as the stomach flu or gastritis. When appendicitis occurs, it is critical to have surgery to remove the appendix before it ruptures. Once the appendix ruptures, the urgency of the situation can be misleading, because there is typically a sudden decrease in pain. The decrease in abdominal pain once the appendix ruptures is because there is decreased pressure, but this also means the infection has leaked into the abdominal cavity. Although many appendectomies can be performed laparoscopically, once the appendix ruptures, an open procedure is necessary to clear the abdomen of infected material.
Intestinal obstructions are first noticed due to symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and the inability to have a bowel movement. Further testing is necessary to determine if an obstruction actually exists, since a pseudo-obstruction can cause the same symptoms. When there is an obstruction or pseudo-obstruction, the distended intestines are visible on imaging tests. Once an obstruction is found, surgery is necessary to remove the obstruction and determine the underlying cause. Sometimes obstructions can be caused by scarring of the intestines from inflammation, tumors (malignant or benign), or a hernia. The surgeon may opt to remove the obstruction or excise the affected portion of the intestines and sew the two healthy ends together.
Perforations can occur anywhere along the digestive system, such as the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Some instances of perforation occur because of trauma, such as a penetrating abdominal trauma. More commonly, perforation is caused by an underlying disease process, such as esophageal erosion, ulcers, or intestinal lesions. Often the main indicator of a perforation is pain and bleeding. For example, ulcers in the stomach or small intestines may cause pain for weeks, but once the ulcer perforates the organ, the person may start vomiting blood. The immediate concern is fixing the perforation so toxic materials, such as stomach acids or waste, do not leak into the abdominal area. Fixing bleeding is also critical. There may be immediate concerns about blood loss; this is further compounded if the person is anemic from a bleeding ulcer that may have gone undetected for a while.
Knowing some of the most common urgent gastrointestinal problems can help you recognize the need for emergency treatment. Prompt surgical procedures can reduce the chances of sepsis or other life-threatening complications.
During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time pushing pillows behind my back trying to find comfort. As the size of the baby grew, so did my discomfort. By the time she was born, I was more than ready to give birth. When I found out I was pregnant again, I was determined that I would not suffer through the same discomforts. I started researching ways to ease the symptoms of pregnancy, including back pain. I created this blog to help other expectant moms find remedies to deal with those symptoms that can be emotionally and physically draining.