Friday, September 10, 2010

What Color Is Your Puke?

I'm reading up on "ileus," which is a bowel obstruction, because my patient yesterday had one, and I didn't know anything about it. I learned that when a patient vomits, what their puke looks like can tell you a little about where the bowel obstruction might be. For instance, clear liquid means it's probably right up by their stomach, and if it's bile-colored and liquidy, that means the obstruction is in the upper small instestine.

Then I got to this:

"Feculent vomitus indicates bacterial overgrowth proximal to the obstruction and is a poor prognostic sign."

It made me laugh. It's terrible, but that statement might be the world's best understatement. Yeah, I would think that if a patient is puking up feces, that probably is a pretty bad sign, prognosis-wise.

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