• Questions to ask your Doctor
  • Choose Quality Care

Intestinal Rupture

Intestinal Rupture is a medical emergency that may lead to sepsis, a severe response to bacteria or other germs that is life threatening and may be life quality compromising, particularly when left untreated or if the individual is not responsive to timely treatment.  Intestinal Rupture or Intestinal Perforation is the medical condition wherein the gastrointestinal contents escape to the abdominal cavity following a trauma or an inflammatory condition of the intestines, eventually leading to inflammation of the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and most of the abdominal organs (peritonitis).

Symptoms of Intestinal Rupture

Intestinal Rupture may present acutely and progressively. The following are the associated symptoms of Intestinal Rupture.

  • Abdominal pain, severe
  • Fainting (during sudden rupture)
  • Fever and Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal rigidity (with peritonitis)


Intestinal Rupture may easily be diagnosed by a gastrointestinal surgeon thorough a Q and A with your physician and physical examination. The following diagnostic methods may aid the diagnosis of Intestinal Rupture.

Chest and Abdominal X-ray – An X-ray of the chest and abdomen will reveal free air in the abdomen. An upright film will reveal an upward denting (convex) of the diaphragm showing free air that’s pushing the diaphragm upward. The presence of free air in the abdomen connotes a ruptured intestinal lumen.

Computerized Tomography (CT) of the Abdomen – CT of the abdomen will pinpoint the exact location of the intestinal perforation. Abdominal CT will also demonstrate intestinal ileus with Peritonitis.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) – A routine blood count will show an increase in the leukocytes count to over 16,000 in cases of Intestinal rupture and acute abdomen.

Other Possible Related Conditions?

As defined, inflammatory pathologies in the intestinal tract including infections may lead to intestinal rupture. With this regard, all inflammations before rupture require consideration in the acute phase of the disease. Abdominal inflammations like appendicitis, diverticulitis, ileitis and colitis are all precursors to abdominal rupture, but may also present the same way in acute phase. Bacterial infections like Salmonella typhi and Clostridium defficile may cause infection of the intestines and rupture. Select Chemo Therapies may increase the risk for abdominal rupture.

Treatment for Intestinal Rupture

The following interventions and treatment options may afford people with intestinal rupture significant benefits:

Medical Treatment- Fluid replacement and antibiotics therapy are one of the pillars in the treatment of Ruptured Intestines. Fluids are administered to control rapid dehydration and antibiotics are given to control infection.

Surgical Treatment- Surgical intervention by exploratory laparotomy and the repair of the severed intestine is very important and potentially lifesaving.

Ileostomy or Colostomy- This procedure involves the resection of the intestine and connecting to the abdominal wall for external abdominal defecation. This will relieve the colon from work for a number of months, after an extensive abdominal surgery.

Colostomy Repair- This procedure is performed months after a colostomy to reconnect the intestine for the normal flow of bowel movements through the rectum. This procedure may require the expertise of an abdominal surgeon who has extensive experience in complex repairs, depending upon the extent of the initial rupture and the outcome from the initial surgery.   


Intestinal Rupture is a surgical emergency; the inflammatory conditions that precede the rupture that cause acute abdominal conditions are also surgical emergencies. If an emergency exploratory laparotomy is not performed immediately, individuals in these conditions may succumb to peritonitis and sepsis, and may eventually die. Prognosis of ruptured intestine improves with immediate intervention and wanes out with delay. Sepsis causes diminished blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys. The consequence is damage to these organs that may or may not improve over time, depending upon the timeliness in treatment and the individual’s response to treatment.  Others individuals may respond without consequence. The key to a successful outcome is speedy intervention and the right expertise on the part of the abdominal surgeon.  

Following hospitalization, individuals may need to go to nursing home temporarily and undergo rehabilitation. For more information, visit: Assisted Living Types

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.