Intestinal obstruction

Alternative Names

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

Definition of Intestinal obstruction

Intestinal obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the bowel that results in the failure of the intestinal contents to pass through.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Obstruction of the bowel may due to:

Signs and tests

While listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope, your health care provider may hear high-pitched bowel sounds at the onset of mechanical obstruction. If the obstruction has persisted for too long or the bowel has been significantly damaged, bowel sounds decrease, eventually becoming silent.

Treatment

Treatment involves placing a tube through the nose into the stomach or intestine to help relieve abdominal distention and vomiting.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome varies with the cause of the obstruction.

Review

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/29/2010

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
Small bowel resection  - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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