Bowel obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the intestines that prevents the normal passage of substances, including gas, fluids and solids, through the intestines. Blockage may occur in the small intestine (small-bowel obstruction) or the large intestine (colonic obstruction or large-bowel obstruction).
When food is consumed, it enters the mouth and travels through the esophagus , stomach , small intestine and finally the large intestine, before waste is expelled through the anus.
A patient with a bowel obstruction is unable to defecate properly. The urge to defecate is typically present, but something is blocking the stool from exiting the body. The small intestine is made up of 3 parts: the duodenum (the segment connected to the stomach), the jejunum (where most the liquid in food is absorbed), and the ileum (which empties into the large intestine). The large intestine is also called the colon. There are many causes of bowel obstruction in the fetus.
Most are caused by an atresia, a narrowing at some point in the small intestine. A bowel obstruction is named by the place in the small intestine where it occurs duodenal atresia, jejunal atresia, ileal atresia, or colon atresia.
Causes of Bowel Obstruction
Most bowel blockages are due to adhesions. An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that causes the bowel to attach to the abdominal wall or other organs. Most large bowel obstructions are caused by tumors. Other causes include hernias, Crohn’s disease, and cancer. In the large intestine, obstructions are most often caused by cancer.
Other causes are severe constipation from a hard mass of stool and twisting or narrowing of the intestine that may occur because of diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease . A blockage can also occur if one part of the intestine folds like a telescope into another part, which is called intussusception.
- Hernia .
- Stomach cancer
- Abdominal surgery.
- Twisted bowel.
- Nerve damage to the bowel.
Signs and Symptoms of Bowel Obstruction
A obstruction can cause the complete absence of stool or gas (constipation) because no stool can pass through the intestine, or it can cause diarrhea, because only liquid stool can pass. Other signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction include fever, abdominal distention (swelling), nausea and vomiting , bloating , constipation and loss of appetite.
A bowel obstruction is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Patients experiencing any signs or symptoms indicative of an intestinal obstruction should promptly contact their physician for a health evaluation. If left untreated, a bowel obstruction can interfere with the normal blood flow in the intestines.
- Bad breath.
- Bloating (distention).
- Abdominal pain.
- Pain and cramping.
Treatment for Bowel Obstruction
Bowel obstructions can be serious, even fatal. If your doctor thinks you may have a bowel obstruction, you will be hospitalized and treated. A tube may be passed through your nose and into your stomach to decrease the pressure of bowel gas. Usually surgery is performed as soon as possible unless the symptoms go away and your bowels quickly start working again. If you need an operation, the surgeon will make a cut through the wall of your abdomen and relieve the blockage.
The surgeon may remove a portion of bowel. Sometimes this can be done with a laparoscope. (A laparoscope is a thin tube with a light and tiny camera that can be put into your abdomen through a small cut.) You will need IV fluids to replace fluids from vomiting and diarrhea. You may need to take antibiotics for infection.
- NG (nasogastric) tube.