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Bowel Obstruction

About Bowel Obstruction

A bowel obstruction is a blockage of the intestines. It can occur in the small or large intestine and has many possible causes. In the United States, the most common reasons for blockage of the large intestine are colorectal cancer and narrowing of the colon from stricture after diverticular disease. Additional causes can be from volvulus (twisting of the intestines) or inflammatory bowel disease.


Bowel obstruction presents with symptoms of obstruction including inability to eat, nausea, vomiting, and lack of bowel movements of gas per the rectum. It may also be associated with a distended abdomen, crampy abdominal pain, and sometimes diarrhea. Your doctor will usually perform a series of radiology tests to further characterize the nature and location of the obstruction.

Treatment for Colon Polyps

Treatment often requires surgery to remove the blockage. This may require a temporary “bag” or colostomy where the feces get emptied into a bag that sticks to the skin. The exact nature of the surgery may depend on the location and degree of obstruction. Sometimes stents can be placed using a fiberoptic colonoscope to relieve the obstruction, but these do not offer a permanent solution. Bowel obstruction is a potentially serious and life threatening condition and requires prompt attention.


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