What is a perforated colon? A perforated colon, also referred to as diverticulitis, may occur throughout the gastrointestinal tract. It is seen mostly in the descending colon and sigmoid. A perforated colon consists of a herniation of mucosa through the colonic muscle. They range from as small as five to ten millimeters up to two centimeters in size. It is thought that if the diverticulum becomes blocked by a piece of feces, it can lead to an infection there.
The older that you become, the chances of you getting of a perforated colon are increased. Most people who experience a perforated colon are middle aged and elderly. This disease is extremely rare in people aged forty and younger. In this age bracket those who are bothered with diverticula may be obese.
It is rare to find this disorder in Africa or Asia. It is most prevlatent in the United States, Europe, and Australia. The most consistent risk factor for developing a perforated colon are the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however it only accounts for one fifth of the cases.
In complicated cases, bacteria may also infect areas outside the colon if an inflamed diverticulum bursts open. If the infection moves all the way to the lining of the abdominal cavity it could become potentially fatal. Ocassionally the inflamed diverticula may cause the bowel to narrow, which can lead to an obstruction. In other cases the affected part of the colon could attach to the bladder or another organ in the pelvic cavaty causing an abnormal connection between the colon or an adjacent organ.
Three fourths of the patients who get a perforated colon do not feel any symptoms. Twenty-five percent however do acquire symptoms. Those who experience symptoms may feel lower quadrant pain, fever, chills, elevation of the white blood cell count, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
Those with the above symptoms are tested with a compupted tomography or CT scan. The CT scan also allows for radiologicaly guided drainage of the abcesses, making it so that the patient will not need surgery. Other tests that may be performed are colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or a barium enema. These tests are used, but only if the doctor does not suspect diverticulitis at first.
The first initial episode is usually treated conservatively. This may be by bowel rest, IV fluid resuscitation, and antibiotics. For those who have reoccuring attacks, these patients may need sugery. When discharged from the hospital, patients should be placed on a low fiber diet. This type of diet gives the colon enough time to heal without being overworked. Later on patients are put on a high fiber diet. In most cases thiis lowers the recurrance rate.
In some cases surgery may be necessary to remove the area of the colon that has the diverticula. Risks envolved with the surgery may include bowel obstruction, peritonitis, abcess, fistula (abnormal tube-like passage), bleeding, or strictures. Although these are not pleasant risks, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Diverticuosis may be prevented by a high fiber diet. Some doctors tell their patients who have a history of this to avoid nuts and seeds in their diet. There is no complete evidence that this helps, but it is possible.
If you think that you are experiencing the symptoms of dierticulitis, please contct your doctor. Also contact your doctor if your symptoms worsen or you develop new symptoms.
Also, as a piece of history, there were a few famous people who suffered from this. They include the ruler of Cuba, Fidel Castro, the 11th president of the United States, James Polk, and baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr..
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