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Bowel Obstruction Causes, Bowel Obstruction Symptoms, Bowel Obstruction Treatment

bowel obstruction

Bowel Obstruction Causes

Bowel obstruction can be caused by a blockage in your gut such as worms or stones, disorders of the lining of the gut causing the walls to swell or constrict such as enteritis, or strangulation from causes outside the gut such as adhesion bands around it.

The most common causes of small bowel obstruction (jejunum, ileum) are:

  • Adhesions from earlier abdominal surgery (70%). These adhesions are a kind of reaction scar tissue which can form tight constricting bands around loops of bowel blocking them.

  • Hernias (10%). Some bowel hernias get caught in their tract and this can cause obstruction of that segment of the bowel.

  • Cancer (5%). A fungating tumor can block the pathway of the gut.

The most common causes of large bowel obstruction (colon, sigmoid) are:

  • Cancer (50%)

  • Volvulus (15%) - a twisted kink in the bowel.

  • Diverticular disease (10%) - pouches along the bowel which become inflammed.

The Symptoms of Bowel Obstruction are:

  • Vomiting - contents of the bowel above the point of blockage back-up until they're vomited.
  • Constipation - contents of the bowel below the point of blockage get evacuated and aren't able to be replaced leading to no further bowel movements.
  • Abdominal pain - caused by the bowel struggling to push food past the blockage.
  • Distention - collection of air and food unable to escape downwards leads to blowing up of the gut like a tire.

Bowel Obstruction Treatment

Surgery is usually used as a last resort to treat bowel obstruction except in emergent cases such as bursting of the bowel, interruption of blood supply to the bowel, massive bowel distention or pain.

For all other bowel obstructions, treatment is to stop all eating and drinking while decompressing the stomach with a tube threaded down the nose, through the swallow pipe, and into the gut. To maintain hydration and prevent you withering away, intravenous fluids are given through a vein in your arm.

This is done for several days under close observation for a return of bowel gurgling sounds, passing flatus or bowel movements. When these healthy bowel 'vitals' return the decompression tube in the nose can be taken out and diet gradually reintroduced beginning with fluids, graduating to soft meals, and finally full course meals.

Surgery entails opening the tummy and looking for dead or burst areas of bowel and removing any of these nonfunctional areas and any constricting bands, cancer, or other causes of obstruction.

MLA Citation for School Reports, Links, and Presentations:
Helpful Links:

  • Bowel Obstruction Wiki
  • Bowel Obstruction Symptoms
  • Bowel Obstruction Wrong Diagnosis
  • About Bowel Obstruction
  • Intestinal Obstruction


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    Last Updated:
    December 15 2013
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