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Small Bowel Obstruction
- Adhesions—scar tissue left behind, in most cases by previous abdominal surgery
- Intussusception—telescoping of the intestinal wall
- Volvulus—the intestine twists on itself
- Impacted foreign bodies—items that were swallowed and got stuck
|Small Bowel Obstruction|
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- Crohn’s disease—an inflammatory bowel condition
- Abdominal, joint, or spine surgery
- Swallowing a foreign body
- Decreased blood supply to the small bowel
- Abnormal growth of tissue in or next to the small intestine
- Tumors in the small intestine
- Infection in the lining of the small intestine
- Kidney disease
- Long-standing diabetes
- Rarely, gallstones
- Abdominal fullness and/or excessive gas
- Distension—abdomen feels stretched out more than normal
- Pain and cramps in stomach area
- Bad breath
- Monitoring and IV fluids—At the hospital, doctors will watch closely to see if the blockage will get better on its own, which is often the case in the event of a paralytic ileus. No food will be allowed and fluids will be given through an IV.
- Nasogastric tube—A tube is inserted through the nose and into the stomach to remove fluids and gas, which can promptly relieve pain and pressure. It will be left in place until the intestines are working well.
- Catheterization—A tube is placed in the bladder to drain and test urine.
- Pain relievers
- Oral triple therapy—to reduce gas, bloating, and improve symptoms
- Muscle stimulants—to promote muscle contraction in the intestine
- Antibiotics—to treat bacterial infections
- Intestinal strangulation, which may be caused by volvulus or intussusception
- Abdominal adhesions
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada http://www.ccfc.ca
Abdominal adhesions. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/intestinaladhesions/index.aspx. Updated September 11, 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Baron TH. Acute colonic obstruction. Gastrointest Endosc Clin N Am. 2007(17)2:323-329.
Bonin EA, Baron TH. Update on the indications and use of colonic stents. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2010;12(5):374-382.
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/intestinalpo. Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Kulaylat MN, Doerr RJ. Small bowel obstruction. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6873. Published 2001. Accessed February 7, 2014.
National Cancer Institute. Gastrointestinal complications (PDQ): health professionals. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/gastrointestinalcomplications/healthprofessional. Updated September 10, 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
Small bowel obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 3, 2013. Accessed February 7, 2014.
4/7/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Katz DS, Baker ME, et al. Suspected small bowel obstruction. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/832F100277004BC69A8C818C7C9BFF33.pdf. Updated 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 00/40/2014