ABC Medical Center > Intestinal obstruction

What is Intestinal obstruction?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It is a partial or total obstruction in the large or small intestine that prevents the passage of food or liquids, so it requires timely treatment to avoid serious complications such as necrosis of the affected intestinal segments.

Intestinal obstruction can be due to the formation of adhesions or scar tissue as a result of surgical procedures, hernias, cancer, intestinal volvulus, the intake of some drugs, or due to inflammatory conditions such as diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease.

Signs and symptoms Intestinal obstruction

  • Moderate to severe abdominal cramps.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Constipation in total blockages.
  • Diarrhea in partial blockages.
  • Abdominal tightening.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.
  • Stuck intestinal gas.
  • Swollen abdomen.
  • High fever.

If urgent medical care is not received, intestinal obstruction can lead to life-threatening complications, such as:

  • Necrosis: Affected parts of the intestine can lose blood flow, leading to tissue death and possible rupture leading to infection.
  • Peritonitis: this is an extremely serious abdominal infection that requires urgent surgical treatment.

A pseudo-obstruction may also appear as a result of a paralyzed ileus, which has the symptoms of a conventional obstruction, but there is no real obstruction, rather the intestine is paralyzed by nerve or muscle damage, the most common causes being:

  • Surgical procedures.
  • Infections.
  • Various drugs.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Nervous system disorders.

Diagnosis and treatment Intestinal obstruction

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination and will request tests such as x-rays, computed tomography, ultrasound, and barium enema.

In general, although it depends on the cause, an intestinal obstruction needs to be treated in a hospital, especially if it is a total obstruction, for which you will require the elimination of the blockage through surgery, either by uncovering the affected part or extracting the damaged or necrotic intestinal areas.

In the case of a pseudo-obstruction, you may be hospitalized to monitor progress and treat the cause, while receiving intravenous nutrition. If there is no improvement in a few days, you will be prescribed drugs that induce intestinal contractions or some decompression treatment, although if nothing works, a surgical procedure will be necessary to restore intestinal function.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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