Bowel obstruction happens when stool is mechanically
or functionally blocked from progressing down the digestive tract.
Bowel obstruction can also cause blood supply to the bowel to
become completely or almost completely stopped, thus causing tissue
damage and even tissue death.
Bowel Obstruction Symptoms
The symptoms of bowel obstruction are:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of bowel movement as well as the urge to have bowel movement
- Inability to pass flatus gas or to fart
- Bad breath
Causes of Bowel Obstruction
Bowel obstruction is caused by:
Here, part of a bowel protrudes through an abnormal hole and
In infants and small children, one segment of the intestine
can slip onto another segment and becomes blocked.
- Granulomatous processes
In this condition, abnormal tissue growth can block
the passage of intestinal content.
- Impacted feces
Hard stool can become lodged in the large bowel.
- Swallowed objects
Foreign objects that are accidentally swallowed can become lodged
in the intestines.
- Inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s
disease and ulcerativie colitis
- Toxic megacolon
In this disease, the colon is enlarged to the point that the
smooth stomach muscle does not work anymore.
- Volvulus or a twist in the colon
- Gallstone ileus
A large gallstone, often with diameter of 1 inch or larger,
erodes through the gallbladder and becomes lodged in the intestine.
- Side effect from previous surgery, such as:
A side effect of intestinal surgery or infection, ileus
is the condition where the bowel stops working temporarily.
The opening of the bowel is narrowed due to a previous abdominal
Treatment of Bowel Obstruction
The treatments for bowel obstruction depend on the severity of
the condition and the cause of the obstruction:
Emergency surgery to remove the obstruction may be required,
especially if tissue damage or death is present or imminent.
Surgery may mean temporary or permanent colostomy, where an
artificial opening in the colon is made to pass stool.
- Barium-guided endoscopy, enema, or x-ray
In cases of volvulus or twisted bowel and intussusception, this
procedure may be able to undo the blockage.
- Decompression of dilated colon
For cases of functional blockage, such as ileus, resting of
the bowel may help. Here, the stomach content is removed by
pumping or suction and the patient is forbidden to eat or drink.
An endoscopic procedure to decompress the dilated bowel may
also be necessary.