Intestinal obstruction

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Intestinal obstruction blocks the passage of food or liquids from the small intestine to the large intestine. The main reason for intestinal obstruction is abdominal adhesion that form after any form of abdominal surgery.

In some cases, the obstruction is due to diverticulitis, hernia or even tumors. If not properly treated, the blocked region of the intestine might become damaged which leads to potentially serious complications, but can be effectively managed if the correct treatment is given.

What are the causes?

  • Hernia
  • Abdominal adhesion
  • Intestinal tumors
  • Intestinal twisting or volvulus
    Intestinal obstruction
    Abdominal cramping that waxes and wanes is an indication.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Intussusception

Risk factors

Some of the medical conditions that causes intestinal obstruction include the following:

  • Surgical procedures to the abdomen or pelvis that oftentimes cause adhesions
  • Abdominal cancer if the individual undergoes surgery for removal of the tumor or radiation treatment
  • Crohn’s disease causes the thickening of the intestinal walls

What are the indications?

Some of the indications of intestinal obstruction include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping that waxes and wanes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal distention
  • Difficulty passing stool


The treatment for intestinal obstruction can be done in an in-patient setting and based on the exact cause of the blockage.

The treatment is started with an IV line for administration of fluids in the body. This is followed by the placement of a nasogastric tube to get rid of air from the stomach and help provide relief to the abdominal swelling.

Partial obstruction

If there is partial obstruction, no specific treatment is needed aside from stabilization stated above. A diet that is low in fiber is usually needed so that food can pass via the partly blocked intestine. If the partial obstruction does not clear on its own, surgery is required.

Complete obstruction

In case there is complete obstruction, surgery is required to clear the blockage. The type of procedure performed is based on the exact cause. This involves removal of the blockage along with any damaged or diseased structures.

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