Matthew Perry underwent surgery to repair a gastrointestinal perforation — here's what that means

Matthew Perry was hospitalized for a gastrointestinal perforation this week. Here’s what that means. (Getty Images).

Matthew Perry is recovering after undergoing gastrointestinal surgery.

In a statement to People, a representative revealed that the 48-year-old actor was rushed to a hospital in California because of to a stomach issue. “Matthew Perry recently underwent surgery in a Los Angeles hospital to repair a gastrointestinal perforation. … He is grateful for the concern and asks for continued privacy as he heals.”

Although Perry seems to be on the mendthe condition is undeniably serious. According to the Mayo Clinic, a gastrointestinal perforation is a tear or rupture that occurs in the digestive tract — the stomach, large bowel, small intestine, or esophagus.

The main symptoms include sharp or sudden abdominal pain, loss of appetite, fever, nausea, chills, and vomiting. Doctors can diagnose the condition through a CT scan — using dye to spot a tear in the bowel (or elsewhere) — or by doing an endoscopy. 

A perforation can be caused by variety of things, and treatment depends on the underlying cause. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been known to cause perforations in the digestive tract, as have things like stomach ulcers. A tear can also result from an obstruction of the bowel, which can happen in the absence of an illness.

Treatment ranges from taking antibiotics — which work to fight off underlying infections — to surgery to repair the hole or to remove an obstruction. If Perry underwent surgery, it’s likely that he was suffering from a serious perforation that needed emergency treatment.

While people who have had a gastrointestinal perforation can make a full recovery, the condition does have serious risks. The perforation can cause the contents of the bowel to spill into the abdomen, causing an infection called peritonitis. Peritonitis is an inflammation of the abdomen’s lining, which can lead to sepsis, which is a bacterial infection in the blood. Sepsis is difficult to treat and extremely deadly  — it’s the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals today. 

It’s a serious condition that requires swift medical care, but in Perry’s case, it seems that’s exactly what he received. Here’s hoping the Friends star is back to his normal self soon.

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