Skip to main content

Penetrating Abdominal Injury

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What do I need to know about a penetrating abdominal injury?

A penetrating abdominal injury may tear, puncture, or damage an organ. These injuries may cause internal bleeding.

What are the signs and symptoms of a penetrating abdominal injury?

  • An open wound that may bleed
  • Abdominal pain, redness, and swelling
  • Bruises, swelling, or scratches on the abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood in your urine
  • Trouble urinating or passing little to no urine
  • Signs of shock, such as a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and pale skin

How is a penetrating abdominal injury diagnosed?

Tests may be used to check your organs and tissues for injury, bleeding, or other problems. Some of the tests use contrast liquid to help the area show up better in pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a penetrating abdominal injury treated?

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

  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics help prevent or treat a bacterial infection.
    • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
    • 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.
  • 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 look for and repair bleeding or damaged organs. Ask for more information about the type of surgery you need.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Care for your wound as directed. Check the wound each day for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. If you have bandages, put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a fast heartbeat.
  • You have severe pain in your abdomen.
  • Your abdomen is more swollen and firm.
  • You are urinating little or none at all.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, and draining pus.
  • Your pain does not go away, or it gets worse, even after treatment.
  • You feel dizzy or are vomiting.
  • You have trouble urinating.
  • You have blood in your urine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Penetrating Abdominal Injury

Care guides

Further information

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