A bowel obstruction is a medical condition in which the bowel is either partially or completely blocked, preventing digestive materials from passing through. This condition can affect both the small and large intestines and can be a medical emergency. Bowel obstruction treatment depends on the type and severity of the blockage, although typical treatment options include the use of enemas, intravenous therapy, and surgery.
Common symptoms of a bowel obstruction include abdominal pain, vomiting, and either constipation or diarrhea. There are many potential causes of a bowel obstruction. Some of these causes include hernias, gallstones, and scar tissue. Bowel obstruction treatment differs according to factors such as the location of the obstruction, the severity of the symptoms, and the overall health of the patient.
Bowel obstruction treatment often begins with the patient being admitted to the hospital for observation. Intravenous, or IV, treatment is often given while the medical staff monitors the patient in order to assess the severity of the condition. Fluids are given through the IV to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics are sometimes given along with the fluids. In some cases, an enema is given in an attempt to clear the blockage.
The abdominal pain experienced by those suffering from a bowel obstruction is generally due to gas and fluids not being able to pass through the blockage. This buildup can become very painful. Another bowel obstruction treatment option is nasogastric suction. In this procedure, a tube is placed into the nose and down the esophagus into the stomach. This tube is then used to remove the extra gas and fluids that have accumulated, relieving some of the pain and pressure.
If the bowel is completely blocked or a partial blockage has not been sufficiently cleared by non-surgical methods, the bowel obstruction treatment of choice may involve surgical intervention. If a tumor or foreign object is found, the surgeon will attempt to remove the cause of the blockage. Many times, part of the small or large intestine is damaged and will have to be removed. The healthy ends of the bowel are then reattached to one another.
At times, bowel obstruction treatment includes the use of a colostomy or ileostomy. A colostomy involves creating a surgical hole in the abdominal wall and threading one end of the large intestine through the hole. A disposable pouch is then attached to collect waste materials. An ileostomy is a similar procedure involving the small intestine. These procedures can be either temporary or permanent.