Mechanical Bowel Obstruction
|Mechanical Bowel Obstruction|
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- Bowel inflammation or swelling
- Foreign matter in the intestines
- Impacted feces
- Volvulus—twisting of the intestine
- Intussusception—when the intestine pulls inward into itself
- Scar tissue from a previous abdominal or pelvic surgery, particularly gynecologic or gastrointestinal operations
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal cramps
- Severe constipation; inability to pass gas or stool
- Foul breath odor
- Nasogastric tube—This involves the passage of a narrow tube through your nose and down into the stomach to suction out fluids that have become trapped above the blockage.
- IV fluids—Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and imbalances in your body fluids; if you are dehydrated, you will be given fluids and electrolytes.
- Medications—You may be given antibiotics or pain medication through an IV or through the nasogastric tube.
- Removal of fecal impaction—If fecal matter is causing the obstruction, it can be removed; your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your rectum to loosen and remove the feces.
- Endoscopy—A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the rectum and into the large intestine to straighten out the intestines.
- Surgery—Depending on the cause of the obstruction, you may need surgery. Surgery can:
- Treat hernias promptly before they can cause a blockage.
To lessen the chance of fecal impaction and diverticulitis:
- Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Exercise regularly.
American College of Gastroenterology http://www.acg.gi.org
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disorders http://www2.niddk.nih.gov
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Abdominal adhesions and bowel obstruction. University of California, San Francisco website. Available at: http://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/bowel-obstruction.aspx. Accessed March 21, 2013.
Beers MH, Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 17th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Simon and Schuster; 1999.
Colonic ileus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 5, 2013. Accessed March 21, 2013.
Essential surgical care manual: intestinal obstruction. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://www.steinergraphics.com/surgical/003%5F07.2.html . Accessed March 21, 2013.
Jackson P, Raiji M. Evaluation and management of intestinal obstruction. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jan 15;83(2):159-165.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012
- Update Date: 03/21/2013