Beware The Effects of Complicated Intra-Abdominal Infections

There are a wide variety of infections that people can experience. Some of them are well known and well treated. Think of infections like urinary tract infections, strep throat, syphilis and chlamydia. They are well known infections. Infections that can affect the abdominal area aren’t always as well known. 

Intra-abdominal infections (IAI) are a collection of issues that can occur around the organs in the abdomen. These infections are one of the most common ways in which a person in a hospital or intensive care unit end up suffering from sepsis. Severe versions of intra-abdominal infections will often lead to dangerous cases of severe sepsis and can have a significant mortality rate! 

What is an Intra Abdominal Infection?

As mentioned, intra abdominal infections are a collection of different infections. They can affect the gastrointestinal tract and cause a large amount of inflammation. It’s also possible for the infections to develop into an abscess that is contained in a fibrous capsule. IAI can spread into the peritoneum. This is the membrane that lines the abdominal wall and covers any organs located in the abdomen. This causes inflammation of the peritoneum and peritonitis. The abdomen can then be perforated! 

Peritonitis is not the only intra-abdominal infection though. It also can include diverticulitis, cholangitis, cholecystitis and pancreatitis. The key with all intra-abdominal infections is that they require fast treatment. They get worse quickly. Quick treatment can keep the infection from spreading and becoming more severe. With quick treatment comes far less risk of the potentially life-threatening consequences. 

How Do They Happen?

People who get an IAI can get it during some type of healthcare event. Infection is always a risk during surgeries or procedures. Hospitals sterilize everything repeatedly in an effort to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible, but it can’t fully be eliminated. 

The other method of gaining them is what’s known as “community” acquired infections. These infections don’t actually have a specific medical reason. To be considered a community acquired infection, the person reporting the infection needs to have been outside any medical treatment for over 48 hours. 

There are a wide number of causes and infections that can develop or cause an IAI. These infections tend to cause a lot of inflammation or  Appendicitis is one of the most common. Many people will suffer from appendicitis during their lifetime. As useless as it is, the appendix really can cause a lot of problems. IAI infections are especially common when the gastrointestinal system suffers a breach or puncture, releasing bacteria to locations it should never reach. 

What Makes an Infection Complicated? 

Intra-abdominal infections are classified as uncomplicated and complicated. Uncomplicated versions tend to simply cause gastrointestinal swelling. These are easier to treat than complicated versions. They do not cause any “disruption” to a person’s anatomy. Without quick treatment, it’s likely that the uncomplicated infection will progress. 

A complicated intra-abdominal infection is the more serious of the two versions. Specifically, an infection is classified as complicated if it has extended to the peritoneum. To be considered complicated, an IAI has to have either caused peritonitis or formed an abscess in a concentrated area.

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