Any injury to the abdomen is called the abdominal trauma, which can be either blunt or penetrating. In blunt trauma, clinical signs are not as evident, whereas penetrating abdominal trauma has obvious clinical signs, such as in stab wounds and gunshot wounds. As is with any penetration wound, there is increased risk of infection. Sometimes, it leads to damage to the organs found in the abdomen. Abdominal wounds occur when there is a break in the continuity of the abdominal wall (either skin or mucous wall). Signs and symptoms depend on the type of injury obtained. Usually, through ultrasonography, computed tomography and peritoneal lavage, a diagnosis can be made. Treatment will depend on the injury obtained.
Background of abdominal trauma
The abdomen is enclosed by the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is found below the ribcage and above the pelvic cavity. No bones are present in this area, unlike the chest and pelvic cavities. Some of the organs found in this region are from the different systems of the body. These include:
- Small intestine
- Large intestine (colon)
Signs and symptoms for abdominal trauma
- Past events of damage to the abdominal cavity
- Pale, clammy skin
- Evident injuries, such as bleeding wounds
- Severe pain possibly supplemented by muscle contractions across the abdominal wall
- Vomiting and nausea
- Contusions of the skin
- Incapable of standing up
- Incontinent (unable to control bladder or bowels)
- Other hints of internal bleeding
First Aid for Abdominal Wounds
Abdominal traumas are potentially very serious and thus need immediate basic first aid when medical services are not readily available. Whether it is caused by a hard force on the abdominal area, which may lead to internal bleeding, or a penetrating object, which can lead to profuse bleeding, victims of abdominal traumas require medical attention. To assist a victim of abdominal trauma
1. Position and assist the patient in a position most comfortable to him/ her. This is usually on the back or the uninjured side. Flex the knees (drawn up) to relieve of pain and spasm.
2. Any tight clothing should be relieved, especially at the neck and waist. Sustain the patient with pillows and blankets for comfort and to avoid loss of body heat, respectively. Calm and reassure the patient.
3. Call for paramedics.
4. Assess the damage. Find entry and exit wounds. To check the back of the victim, use the hand to feel for a wound and find a pool of blood. If there is more than one open abdominal wound, the more serious wound should be treated.
5. Remove, cut or tear the clothing to expose the open abdominal wound. If clothing is stuck to the wound, cut or tear around the stuck clothing. Foreign objects on the wound must not be removed. In chemical environments, do not expose the wound.
6. If part of any organs has been dislodged, do not attempt to put it back. Using a sterile, dry material, gradually lift the organ and place on top of the victim’s abdomen.
7. Cover the wound using a sterile dressing. If it is a protruding wound, stabilize the object using a clean material and bandage. Using one hand, keep the dressing in place to prevent slipping.
The different parts of the body require specific instructions when trauma befalls on its area. First aid training offers valuable information on how to properly treat various wounds, including abdominal trauma in the body.