Certain gastrointestinal disorders can be life threatening and require emergency treatment. For many people, emergency treatment involves surgery.
Abdominal pain Acute Abdominal Pain Abdominal pain is common and often minor. Severe abdominal pain that comes on quickly, however, almost always indicates a significant problem. The pain may be the only sign of the need for surgery... read more , often severe, usually accompanies gastrointestinal emergencies. If a person has abdominal pain, a doctor must decide whether immediate surgery is needed to both identify and treat the problem or whether surgery can wait until diagnostic test results are available. Emergency surgery of the abdomen is often done when the abdominal pain seems to result from
A ruptured or perforated (punctured) organ, such as the stomach, appendix (see Appendicitis Appendicitis Appendicitis is inflammation and infection of the appendix. Often a blockage inside the appendix causes the appendix to become inflamed and infected. Abdominal pain, nausea, and fever are common... read more ), or intestine
A blockage of blood flow (see Acute Mesenteric Ischemia Acute Mesenteric Ischemia Acute mesenteric ischemia is sudden blockage of blood flow to part of the intestines, which may lead to gangrene and perforation (puncture). Severe abdominal pain develops suddenly. Angiography... read more and Ischemic Colitis Ischemic Colitis Ischemic colitis is injury of the large intestine that results from an interruption of blood flow. Abdominal pain and bloody stools are common. Computed tomography is usually done, and colonoscopy... read more )
Not all gastrointestinal disorders are treated with surgery (see Ileus Ileus Ileus is a temporary lack of the normal muscle contractions of the intestines. Abdominal surgery and drugs that interfere with the intestine’s movements are a common cause. Bloating, vomiting... read more ).
Gastrointestinal bleeding Gastrointestinal Bleeding Bleeding may occur anywhere along the digestive (gastrointestinal [GI]) tract, from the mouth to the anus. Blood may be easily seen by the naked eye (overt), or blood may be present in amounts... read more , which is typically painless, also can be life threatening. Doctors usually do an endoscopy Endoscopy Endoscopy is an examination of internal structures using a flexible viewing tube (endoscope). In addition to examinations, doctors can use endoscopy to do biopsies and give treatment. Endoscopes... read more (an examination of internal structures using a flexible viewing tube) to find and treat the source of bleeding. When the source of the bleeding cannot be found or treated, a surgical procedure is sometimes required.
The Digestive System