abdominal pain

What Causes A Bowel Obstruction


We love to eat. Who doesn’t? Every morsel of the food that we eat is being broken down into the tiniest molecule or atom to give us energy that we need all through out the day. People love to treat their taste buds with delicious food. Food is a part of our daily lives. After the food has been swallowed, it goes to the stomach wherein it is being digested and absorption of nutrients is made. After that, it needs to be emptied to the intestines for further digestion and further absorption for the other nutrients that is solely being absorbed in the small and large intestines. There we go hungry and crave for another food again.

Everyday food

Our bowels or intestines play a huge part in maintaining homeostasis or balance in our bodies. Whatever food or drink that we intake must come out as product wastes after being metabolized in our body to remain fit and healthy.


A bowel obstruction is a blockage that prevents the passage of intestinal contents. There are two types of bowel or intestinal obstruction. It is very imperative to undergo diagnostic procedures in order to rule out the cause of the obstruction and treat it before it gets worse.



abdominal pain

Symptoms that may occur are colicky pains, flatus, spasms, and lack of appetite. The person may also have increasing abdominal girth during an acute phase.  You will also notice that the stool formation is in liquid form because only the liquid contents are being able to pass while the solids cannot due to the blockage. The person suffering obstruction may also pass blood in the stool. If the abdomen is already distended, there is a big risk for regurgitation of stomach contents. This leads to reflux vomiting and eventually will also lead to dehydration. When a person loses fluids in the body, water is not only lost but also the electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride in the body that may lead to other systemic imbalances. The lower the obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, the greater risk for abdominal distention. If the obstruction occurred in the large bowel, constipation is usually the first sign for the few days followed by crampy pain and distention of the lower abdomen.



Mechanical obstruction occurs when the wall or lining of the intestines causes an obstruction due to increased luminal pressure of the walls of intestines. Mechanical obstruction has several causes. Intussusception which is characterized by the telescoping of the walls of intestine is one that is common to children. Obstructive wall of intestines can be caused by abnormal growth of polypoid tumors or neoplasms which blocks the passage. Stenosis and strictures also cause obstruction because of the diameter of the bowel is decreased. Among other causes of obstruction are hernias or the bulging of intestines and its contents to other cavities, adhesions, scar tissue, volvulus or the twisting of intestines, foreign bodies, gall stones, impacted feces and abscesses.

Adhesions are the most common cause of obstruction in the small intestine followed by hernias and neoplasms. A bowel obstruction that is caused by adhesions caused by surgery is due to the soft tissues that were traumatized during manipulation during a surgery. Some people can be very sensitive that even after intense aseptic techniques were rendered before, during and after the procedure, develop scarring or even infection that causes the visceral and peritoneal cavities to become bruised and therefore causing obstruction.  In the large intestine, the most common cause are inflammatory diseases, carcinoma and benign tumors mostly in the sigmoid colon, or the end part of the large bowel.

Functional obstruction occurs when the intestinal muscles cannot propel the contents to pass through the bowel. This is caused by other diseases related to endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus or neurologic disorders. Muscle dystrophy and weakening of muscles also causes the intestines not to function normally.


Nasogastric Tube

Decompression of the small intestines is done through inserting of a nasogastric tube wherein the gastric contents are being drained. Gas is also expelled through the tube to further relieve the patient from colicky pains. The input and output of the patient must be monitored. If the condition does not improve, surgery becomes imperative. In large bowel obstruction, a rectal tube may be inserted to relieve gas or bowel contents. Tumors and neoplasms are managed through surgery. A temporary or permanent opening may be surgically done in the large intestine’s wall order to be able to pass stools.


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