Intestinal Obstruction

Dr. Kolachalam, Intestinal Obstruction  



What causes Intestinal Obstruction?


There are many reasons for an intestinal obstruction, but can be separated into small intestine and large intestine.

Mechanical obstruction of the small intestine

Common causes of mechanical obstruction, in which something physically blocks the small intestine, include:

  • Intestinal adhesions — bands of fibrous tissue in the abdominal cavity that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Hernias — portions of intestine that protrude into another part of your body
  • Tumors in the small intestine
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Twisting of the intestine (volvulus)
  • Telescoping of the intestine (intussusception)

Mechanical obstruction of the colon

Mechanical obstruction is much less common in the colon. Potential causes include:

  • Colon cancer
  • Diverticulitis — a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in the digestive tract become inflamed or infected
  • Twisting of the colon (volvulus)
  • Impacted feces
  • Narrowing of the colon caused by inflammation and scarring (stricture)


What are the symptoms of an intestinal obstruction?


Signs and symptoms of intestinal obstruction include:

  • Crampy abdominal pain that comes and goes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Swelling of the abdomen (distention)


How would Dr. Kolachalam diagnose an intestinal obstruction?


Tests and procedures used to diagnose intestinal obstruction include:

  • Physical exam
  • Dr. Kolachalam will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. 
  • Dr. Kolachalam will also do a physical exam to assess your situation.
  • Dr. Kolachalam may suspect intestinal obstruction if your abdomen is swollen or tender or if there’s a lump in your abdomen.
  • Dr. Kolachalam may listen for bowel sounds with a stethoscope.
  • Imaging tests
  • To confirm a diagnosis of intestinal obstruction, Dr. Kolachalam may recommend an abdominal X-ray or CT scan.
  • These tests also help your doctor determine if the obstruction is paralytic ileus or a mechanical obstruction, and if the obstruction is partial or complete.


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