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recovery after emergency perforated colon surgery
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recovery after emergency perforated colon surgery

my mom (71 years old) had emergency surgery for a perforated colon on Friday (dec. 5) (4 days ago).  She is still in ICU and on the respirator.  Her temp is about 100.7 but her lungs are not great.  She is making small improvements daily but we are concerned she's still in ICU and still on the respirator (is it normal to be on the respirator so long and can someone on the respirator this long end up okay).   Is this common to still be in ICU and if her lungs are not great could they become stronger and be okay?  She looks so sad and frustrated (can't talk due to the respirator/tubes).  When we look at her we are so scared.  Could you tell us if most people do okay after emergency surgery?  Also when she looks up at us we try to say comforting things but do you have any suggestions?  We are here all the time and want some small assurance that she'll be okay.

Thank you so much and we anxiously await your response.

her loving and devoted daughters.

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Surgeon has kindly addressed your question in his comments below and I agree with his assessment.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.
6 Comments
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There are so many factors involved in a situation like your mother's that it's impossible to say much from this far away. But these things are true: a perforation of the colon releases lots of toxins into the abdominal cavity, and from there into the blood stream, affecting other organs. In a perfectly healthy younger person, it would not be at all unusual, depending on how bad the perforation was, to be on a ventilator lots longer than 4 days; so for a 71 year old, it's absolutlely to be expected in many situations. People can be much sicker, and be ventilated for weeks, and still make a full recovery. Recovery from emergency surgery depends on many, many factors. Generally, things tend to keep getting worse for a few days after surgery, as the effects of the toxins continue to be felt. In most cases, that period is at least 3 days; so what you describe regarding your mother is completely within predicable parameters, and -- knowing no more than what you've said -- there's no reason not to assume full and complete recovery. Of course, you should express your concerns to her care-givers; they are most able to tell you what's going on and why, and what they themselves expect, and why. Communicating with family is part of the job.
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To Elyce:

I've just experienced the agony that you explain.

I have a relative that just had emergency surgery for a ruptured colon on November 29th at age 63.

She was on a respirator for nearly a week in ICU. Then slowly improved enough to go to step-down ICU for another week. Yesterday she moved to assisted living.

I too was shocked at her appearance when I first saw her in ICU. But the number 1 thing they need most right now is rest. And that is one thing the respirator is doing. Helping the person to breath, so they can heal the injured area. The temperature will go up partly because of the body's defense against the infection and the injured area.

I wish you the best outcome.
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My 91 yo dad just had emergency surgery for a perforated colon. Unfortunately, he lay in the hospital for 8 days before the diagnosis was made and now is fighting for his life.  Although an advanced age, his genetic make-up is such that we feel he is up for the fight.  This is the third day since his operation.  His swelling is going down as of last night and seems to be aware of our presence.  He has some pneumonia, but never smoked or drank for that matter.  
Do you think he has a chance for a full recovery?
worriedson
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I know how you all feel.  My mom is 79 and had emergnecy surgery for a perforated colon Jan 29th.  She had another CAT scan yesterday and it showed that there was air present.  The suspision is that another performation is present.  She looks so sad and frustrated.  I fear she's ready to give up.  Do you think she can survive if another performation is present?  My mom also has lung issues.
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Hi I am 37 years old and just an emergency surgery, that resulted in taking out about 70% of my colon. I started out with mild abdominal pain on friday Jan.30th 04, and went into the hosptal on the 1st of Feb, at which point I had a fever,SEVERE abdominal cramping(was unable to walk),and the DR, thougth it was my appendix. When they went to operate they found the infction, and soon realized the appendix was not the cause. It was REALLY bad,and I am extremely lucky to be alive. I was in the hospital for 11 days with an IV, and numerous doses of antiobiotics. I was not able to eat for 6 days. I have been home now for 4 days, and am relieved to not have to be in the hospital!! I am still on antibiotics, I have 2 more days until I am in the clear of developing an absess (abscess). I have NO energy, have lost a lot of weight, and get dizzy, lightheaded, and nausous, throughout the day. The piece of colon that was removed has been sent in for a biopsy, they do not know what caused this perforation. I am a very healthy person,I have been teaching and practicing yoga for 9 years, work with a personal trainer, walk regularly,and follow a no red meat diet. The doctors are baffled, as am I. My recovery will be long,but I am grateful to be alive. I hope this story provides inspiration to anyone who has experienced what I have, and information to any qustions you might of had. God bless and Namaste.
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