Abdominal/bowel injury and surgery

Patients recovering from extensive bowel surgery often come to ICU. Patients with injuries to abdominal organs (such as the bowel or spleen) may also come to ICU. After surgery or an injury you may need some close nursing care. This is best done in ICU as you recover.

Common experiences

The injury and/or surgery can take a toll on your body. You may:

  • feel more tired and fatigued than you expected
  • be very breathless, even with limited activity
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • lose your appetite
  • have a change in bowel habit
  • have a painful wound
  • find that the skin around the wound feels different


Some patients need feeding directly into the stomach through a feeding tube (gastric tube or nasogastric tube). Some patients need nutrition to be given directly into the bloodstream (parenteral nutrition, TPN).

Related topics

External resources

  • Auspen – auspen.org.au (opens in new page)
    A society focussed on nutrition. Supports and promotes high standards for parenteral and enteral nutrition for patients in hospital and at home.
  • Bowel Cancer Australia – bowelcanceraustralia.org (opens a new page)
    National charity dedicated to prevention, early diagnosis, research, quality treatment and the best care for everyone affected by bowel cancer.
  • Bowel Cancer New Zealand – bowelcancernz.org.nz (opens a new page)
    Supporting those living with bowel cancer and their families, educating communities and raising awareness about bowel cancer.

This topic was reviewed by an intensive care medicine specialist in July 2022.

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