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Penetrating Abdominal Injury


A penetrating, or piercing, abdominal injury may tear, puncture, or damage an organ. These injuries are caused by an object that penetrates the skin, such as a gunshot or stab wound. They may also be caused by broken bones, shrapnel, or other pointed objects. Your pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, or bladder may be injured. These injuries may cause internal bleeding.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

A Foley catheter

is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out.

You may have a drain

in your wound to drain extra blood and fluid. It is removed when your wound stops draining.


  • Antibiotics help prevent or treat a bacterial infection.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • A Tetanus vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent tetanus. The booster may be given to adolescents and adults every 10 years or for certain wounds and injuries.


You may need tests that require contrast dye. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body. You may need any of the following:

  • Blood and urine tests may show how your organs are working and if you have internal bleeding.
  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show the injury and any damage to the surrounding tissues or organs.
  • An angiography may show problems with blood flow in your abdomen. A catheter is placed in a blood vessel in your groin. Dye is inserted. Pictures are taken using an x-ray or a CT scan after the dye goes to your abdominal organs.
  • A cystogram is a type of x-ray that shows your bladder. A catheter is put into your bladder and dye is inserted. X-rays are taken to look for damage or how much urine is in your bladder.
  • An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may show damage to your pancreas and gallbladder. Contrast dye may be used to show your organs clearly.
  • Peritoneal lavage may show if you have internal bleeding. A catheter and needle are inserted through an incision in your abdomen. Liquid is put into the catheter. Fluid is then removed and checked for signs of blood or bile.


Your healthcare provider will watch you closely if your injury is mild and your condition is stable. You may need any of the following:

  • A drain may be placed to remove extra blood or fluid from your abdomen.
  • Embolization is a procedure to stop internal bleeding. A liquid, coil, or gel is injected into a blood vessel.
  • Surgery may be needed to clean and repair one or more injured organs. Ask for more information about the type of surgery you need.


You may develop internal bleeding or get an infection. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.