What is a bowel obstruction?

A bowel obstruction is when something blocks the bowel (large or small intestines) from passing contents normally. Digestion and absorption occur in the intestines. The small intestines reach from the stomach to the large intestine. The large intestine goes from the right side of the abd, across the abdomen and descends on the left side of the abdomen. The large intestine is shorter and wider than the small intestine.

An obstruction can be mechanical when something such as a tumor, hernia, etc physically obstructs the bowel, or it can be Paralytic. A Paralytic obstruction occurs when the bowel stops working due to infection, trauma, surgery, etc. There is an accumulation of fluids, gas and bowel contents when a blockage occurs.

Signs and symptoms of a blockage include: Abdominal distention, no bowel sounds, pain or cramping (or little pain with a paralytic obstruction), vomiting, failure to pas gas or stool and breath odor may occur.

Possible complications of a bowel obstruction are: perforation (a hole) in the intestines or death of the bowel caused by decreased blood flow.