Medical Definition of Perforated Bowel

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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.

Reviewed on 4/9/2019


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

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors