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Surgical Emergencies

Surgical emergencies are medical emergencies for which immediate surgical intervention is the only way to solve the problem successfully. Dr Chandra specialises in emergency surgical procedures relating to the colon (bowel) and lower digestive tract, referred to as gastrointestinal emergency surgery.

The following conditions are surgical emergencies:

Read more on these conditions below...

Acute Trauma

Any event causing severe trauma to the abdominal area e.g. car accident, fall, gunshot/knife wound.

Acute Appendicitis

The appendix is a short tube-like protuberance attached to the caecum, which is the first section of the small intestine (the duodenum) where it joins the stomach. It is shaped a little like a finger of a glove and can be about the same size or slightly longer. It’s usually positioned on the right side of the body.

Recent research indicates it may function as a ‘hiding place’ for beneficial bacteria when the body need to flush other bacteria out of the gut. It is also thought to play a wider role in the body’s immune system.

Acute appendicitis is where the appendix becomes inflamed or diseased and the normal form of treatment is surgical removal of the appendix in this case. This can be performed using conventional open surgery or via laparoscopic surgery.

Appendicitis is characterised by severe abdominal pain and is generally diagnosed via ultrasound or CT scan.

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel obstruction can be caused by a range of factors, such as cancerous or non-cancerous tumours, scar tissue (common in the small intestine) or narrowing/twisting of the intestine. It can be brought on by Crohn’s Disease or hernias, although severe constipation can also cause bowel obstruction.

Symptoms may include...

  • Intermittent stomach pain or cramps around or below the navel

  • Bloating

  • Constipation or diarrhoea (the latter indicates the intestine may be partly blocked)

  • Vomiting

Bowel obstruction is generally diagnosed via X-ray or CT scan.

Gastrointestinal Perforation

Sometimes referred to as ‘GP’, this is where a hole appears either in the stomach, or large or small bowel. It can be caused by conditions such as appendicitis or diverticular disease or by injury. It can lead to peritonitis, which is inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity.

Gastrointestinal perforation has the following symptoms...

  • Severe stomach pain

  • Fever/chills

  • Nausea and vomiting

Gastrointestinal perforation is generally diagnosed via X-ray or CT scan.


Peritonitis is the inflammation of the inner lining of the abdominal cavity. It is characterised by general abdominal pain and can be brought on by a number of factors, including ulcers, appendicitis, diverticular disease, bacterial infections and other conditions.

Peritonitis is generally diagnosed via X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.


Volvulus refers to the twisting of a section of the bowel which may lead to bowel obstruction. In babies and young children it is usually congenital, i.e. hereditary, and in adults it may be caused by adhesions, i.e. scar tissue and occurs most frequently with men after middle age. It can also be linked to problems with constipation.

Volvulus is commonly diagnosed via X ray, a barium enema or a CT scan.

Acute Mesenteric Ischemia

Acute mesenteric ischemia describes where the small bowel is affected by lack of blood supply. The main symptoms are sudden severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

The condition is generally caused by a blood clot in one of the veins supplying the small bowel, often caused by other conditions such as renal failure or heart failure. Most people affected are over 60 years old.

The condition is generally diagnosed via angiogram.

Stercoral Perforation

This is where the walls of the bowel are perforated or ruptured by the contents of the bowel. This can be a foreign object or more frequently severe constipation causing hardened faeces. Stercoral perforation may cause peritonitis if untreated and thus needs emergency surgical attention.

This list is a summary and is not exhaustive - other conditions and situations may also require emergency surgical intervention.

Dr Raaj Chandra consults at Elgar Hill Medical Suites (Box Hill) and performs surgery at Epworth Eastern Hospital (Box Hill). To book a consultation, call today on (03) 9895 7100.