Site Map

Intestinal obstruction

Paralytic ileus; Intestinal volvulus; Bowel obstruction; Ileus; Pseudo-obstruction - intestinal; Colonic ileus

Intestinal obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the bowel. The contents of the intestine cannot pass through it.

Images

Digestive system
Ileus - X-ray of distended bowel and stomach
Ileus - X-ray of bowel distension
Intussusception - X-ray
Volvulus - X-ray
Small bowel obstruction - X-ray

Presantation

Small intestine anatomy

I Would Like to Learn About:

Causes

Obstruction of the bowel may due to:

Paralytic ileus, also called pseudo-obstruction, is one of the major causes of intestinal obstruction in infants and children. Causes of paralytic ileus may include:

Mechanical causes of intestinal obstruction may include:

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

During a physical exam, the health care provider may find bloating, tenderness, or hernias in the abdomen.

Tests that show obstruction include:

Treatment

Treatment involves placing a tube through the nose into the stomach or intestine. This is to help relieve abdominal swelling (distention) and vomiting. Volvulus of the large bowel may be treated by passing a tube into the rectum.

Surgery may be needed to relieve the obstruction if the tube does not relieve the symptoms. It may also be needed if there are signs of tissue death.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome depends on the cause of the blockage. Most of the time, the cause is easily treated.

Possible Complications

Complications may include or may lead to:

If the obstruction blocks the blood supply to the intestine, it may cause infection and tissue death (gangrene). Risks for tissue death are related to the cause of the blockage and how long it has been present. Hernias, volvulus, and intussusception carry a higher gangrene risk.

In a newborn, paralytic ileus that destroys the bowel wall (necrotizing enterocolitis) is a life-threatening condition. It may lead to blood and lung infections.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you:

Prevention

Prevention depends on the cause. Treating conditions, such as tumors and hernias that can lead to a blockage, may reduce your risk.

Some causes of obstruction cannot be prevented.

Related Information

Peritonitis
Abdomen - swollen
Abdominal sounds
Hernia
Gallstones
Tumor
Intussusception - children
Crohn disease
Intestinal obstruction repair
Diet - clear liquid
Diet - full liquid
Large bowel resection - discharge
Small bowel resection - discharge
Total colectomy or proctocolectomy - discharge

References

Fry RD, Mahmoud N, Maron DJ, Bleier JIS. Colon and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders; 2012:chap 52.

McKenzie S, Evers BM. Small intestine. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders; 2012:chap 50.

Turnage RH, Heldmann M. Intestinal obstruction. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 119.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 8/11/2014  

Reviewed By: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2016 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com