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A viscus is an internal organ located in the abdominal cavity or the pelvic area. "Viscus" is quite literally the Latin word for "an organ in the body", and the plural is viscera. 

For example, viscera in the abdomen include the peritoneum, stomach, duodenum, intestine, colon liver, spleen, pancreas, kidney, adrenal gland, appendix and gallbladder. Pelvic viscera include the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, urinary bladder and rectum.

Some of these organs are hollow and may perforate due to certain medical conditions or injuries. Perforation typically leads to the entering of the content from the viscus into the peritoneal cavity and consequent inflammation and several more complications. Viscus perforation is considered a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

Causes of a Perforated Viscus

The walls of hollow organs inside the abdominal cavity and pelvis keep the contents of the organs inside and prevent their leakage. Food is, for example, digested and transferred inside the stomach, intestine and colon and finally eliminated via the rectum. Similarly, the gallbladder is a hollow organ which serves as a reservoir of bile from the liver. The urine bladder contains urine. But, the situation can change if the continuity of these hollow organs is interrupted. This way, their content enters the peritoneal cavity — or in plain English, spills into the abdomen.

There are many causes of viscus perforation. Injury and trauma are only two of them. Injury can be caused by sharp objects such as knifes or even gun shots. In case of trauma, a direct blow to the abdomen may result in perforation of certain internal organs. Furthermore, viscus perforation may be a consequence of inflammatory illnesses of the intestine such as typhoid fever. Perforation can be also associated with gastric or duodenal ulcers. Bowel obstruction, colon cancer, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis and appendicitis are several more conditions which may eventually cause viscus perforation. In women, rupture can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and even the uterus.

Symptoms of Perforated Viscus

The most common symptom of viscus perforation is severe and sudden pain in the abdomen. Irritation of the peritoneum caused by the content from the perforated viscus leads to rigidity of the abdominal muscles. The abdomen is also tender to touch and distended. Additional symptoms include nausea and vomiting. The heart rate is increased and the blood pressure drops. Patients may develop a fever.

Treatment for a Perforated Viscus

Leakage of the content of the perforated viscus allows bacteria to enter the peritoneal cavity. They may eventually enter the blood stream and cause lethal sepsis. This is why it is essential to remove all the content from the peritoneal cavity which may cause further complications, and then to repair the affected organ. These patients always need to be treated surgically, and organ perforation represents a serious medical emergency, meaning time is of the essence. During the procedure, a surgeon surgically repairs the perforated viscus and cleans the peritoneal cavity, while non-essential organs such as the gallbladder, appendix or spleen may be removed. To prevent fatal complications due to bacterial infections, all patients are alsi administered antibiotics.

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