Definition of Perforated Bowel

Perforated bowel: This is a break, or hole, in the wall of the large intestine (bowel). A perforated bowel is a surgical emergency that requires urgent treatment, because with a perforation, the contents of the bowel can spill into the abdominal cavity. This can cause life-threatening infection of the abdominal cavity. There are many causes of a perforated bowel, including infection, inflammatory bowel disease, cancers, trauma, diverticulitis, and ischemic colitis. Ruptured bowel is another term to describe perforated bowel.


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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