How to Detect Intestinal Obstruction

From: Helen Dynda (
Sat Feb 22 11:10:33 2003

How to Detect Intestinal Obstruction

Intestinal obstruction is a serious surgical emergency. If neglected, it can lead to strangulation and gangrene of the bowel that can be fatal. Identifying intestinal obstruction and seeking early medical attention is therefore critical.

1.) Abdominal pain is a common feature. The pain is often central abdominal and colicky -- that it, it waxes and wanes in severity. 2.) Vomiting is another constant feature in intestinal obstruction.

3.) In upper intestinal obstruction, the vomiting is bilious, green or yellow, bitter or sour tasting.

4.) Vomiting usually follows abdominal pain.

5.) After a few hours, obstipation occurs. The patient does not pass either flatus or stools.

6.) Distension of the abdomen is another characteristic feature. It is more pronounced in distal bowel obstruction and progressively increases over time.

7.) Temperature is usually normal unless complications set in.

8.) Persons who have had prior abdominal surgery are at higher risk because of scarring from the first surgery.

9.) Hernias are another frequent cause of intestinal obstruction and all patients with hernias should be on guard against the onset of these symptoms.

10.) If the obstruction remains unrelieved, pain increases in severity and becomes constant .

11.) Complications like strangulation ( loss of blood supply to intestine ) or perforation of the intestine should be suspected when this happens.

12.) Other signs of complications are the change to a more foul smelling feculent vomitus, high fever and sharp localization of abdominal pain.

13.) An abdominal x-ray examination will often clinch the diagnosis revealing dilated loops of intestines with multiple air-fluid levels.

14.) Emergency resuscitation measures must be instituted and early surgery is often indicated.

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[]> Tips:

1.) Early diagnosis prevents many complications.

2.) High risk patients should be on guard against symptoms of obstruction.

3.) When in doubt, seek medical attention.

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