What is an obstruction?
A bowel obstruction is when our intestines are unable to completely function in digestion and passing our food completely thru our system. You may feel bloated, have crampy abdominal pain and become nauseous and continually vomit. This is usually associated with constipation and no bowel movements. If this happens, we recommend you immediately call your doctor or visit an emergency room.
Your small bowel
The small bowel is a hollow organ that helps in digestion. Normally, you have approximately 20 feet of small bowel. If blocked, it can cause an emergency.
What causes a small bowel blockage?
The three most common causes of a blockage include:
- Previous abdominal surgery. This can include gallbladder problems, colon issues. Even gynecologic surgery in your past can contribute. Previous surgery causes scar tissue that can lead to a blockage
- Hernias: Your small bowel can become kinked within a hernia and cause a blockage
- A mass can contribute to a blockage
- There are other causes for a small bowel blockage but these are the three most likely causes
Symptoms can occur over several days. Many other causes can mimic a bowel obstruction (ie spoiled food, a virus, etc). Symptoms can include:
- Pain that starts anywhere in your belly
- Pressure and bloating that comes and goes
- Nausea and vomiting
- No bowel movements or less bowel movements
- Not able to pass gas from your rectum
Most people are admitted to a hospital for a small bowel blockage. You may receive fluids, pain medicine and a tube to drain your stomach. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will give you general anesthesia just before your surgery. This keeps you pain-free and allows you to sleep during the surgery.