In some cases, open wounds of the abdomen are so large and deep that intestinal organs protrude through the wound. This emergency is called evisceration.
Evisceration can occur as a result of severe injuries to the abdomen. It is more common in an individual who has undergone abdominal surgery. Abdominal organs such as the intestines can protrude through the outer abdomen. When it occurs, it can be a serious medical emergency that requires prompt first aid and emergency care.
First aid for evisceration
- Check airway, breathing and circulation.
- Call 911 or your local emergency phone number. Provide information as to the condition of the patient. Be ready to follow instructions.
- Provide first aid for shock.
- Control external bleeding.
- Do not touch or attempt to re-place the organ.
- Carefully cut away clothing to expose the wound site. Do not attempt to pull away any piece of clothing or article that does not lift off easily.
- If possible, flex the patient’s uninjured limbs towards the hips and knees to relax abdominal muscles and minimize stress to the wound site.
- Do not give anything by mouth. Watch out for possible vomiting.
- Provide reassurance. Stay with the patient.
All you can do is to wait for emergency services to arrive and provide advanced first aid treatment. However, if you have adequate training and equipment, you can go on providing advanced care. Cover the exposed organ and wound opening with sterile plastic wrap. If available, a sterile dressing that is soaked in sterile saline solution may be used to cover the protruding organs. Make sure the dressing extends at least two inches beyond the edges of the wound or the exposed organ.
The dressing should be taped in place. It should seal the edges of the organ or wound to create an occlusive dressing. This prevents the internal organ, tissues and organs from drying off. After securing the wet dressing in place, apply a clean towel or a thick dressing pad over the occlusive dressing. This will prevent further heat loss. Use bandage to keep the outermost dressing in place.
Through all steps of care, be sure to practice aseptic technique and to minimize contact to the exposed organ or wound. If there is an impaled object, do not attempt to remove it. Instead stabilize the foreign object with bulky dressing and secure in place using bandage.
Continue monitoring the patient’s vital signs and for signs of shock while waiting for help to arrive.