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Perforation of the Digestive Tract

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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A perforation is a hole.

Your digestive tract is the group of hollow organs that food passes through when you swallow and digest it. These organs are part of the digestive tract:

What is a perforation of the digestive tract?

A perforation of the digestive tract is a hole in any of the organs in your digestive tract.

  • Injuries, certain diseases, or swallowing certain things can make a hole in your digestive tract

  • Food, digestive juices, or waste leak out of the hole into your chest or belly and make you very sick

  • You’ll have sudden, severe pain in your chest or belly

  • Doctors do x-rays and sometimes a CT scan

  • A perforation is a medical emergency, and you'll need surgery right away

  • Without treatment, you might die

What causes a perforation of the digestive tract?

Causes of a perforation depend on where in the digestive tract the hole is. Causes include:

What are the symptoms of a perforated digestive tract?

Symptoms of a perforation of the digestive tract include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in your chest or belly

  • Sweating

  • A belly that is tender and firm when touched

  • Feeling sick to your stomach

  • Throwing up

How can doctors tell if my digestive tract has a perforation?

Doctors will do:

How do doctors treat a perforation of the digestive tract?

Doctors treat a perforation of the digestive tract using:

  • Immediate surgery to close the hole and stop fluid and intestinal contents from leaking out

  • Fluids and antibiotics given through your vein (IV)

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