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A perforation is a hole in the wall of the digestive tract. A perforation may occur anywhere in the digestive tract and may occur when:

  • A crater-shaped sore (ulcer) erodes through the wall of the stomach or a section of intestine.
  • An infection in the appendix erodes through the wall of the appendix.
  • An infection of an abnormal pouch or sac in the intestine (diverticulum) erodes through the wall of a section of the bowel.
  • A swallowed object punctures the digestive tract.

A perforation of the digestive tract can be life-threatening. It can cause severe pain and bleeding. The material inside the intestines can leak into the hollow space of the abdomen (abdominal cavity) and cause an infection (peritonitis). Emergency surgery is needed when a perforation has occurred.


By: Healthwise Staff Current as of: January 9, 2013
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD

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