We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Can Cause a Duodenal Obstruction?

By J. Finnegan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The causes of duodenal obstruction include tissue damage, growths, congenital defects or a foreign object blockage of the upper digestive tract. In infants and small children, a duodenal obstruction is often caused by some type of congenital defect which results in malformation of one or more areas of the upper digestive tract. A duodenal obstruction in adults is most often caused by a foreign object becoming lodged in the passage, or by a narrowing of the passageway due to scar tissue formation, tumor growth, or infection.

The first and shortest part of the small intestine is the duodenum, which is followed by the jejunum, and lastly by the ileum. The duodenum is also known as the anterior or proximal intestine and together with the upper jejunum is responsible for most of the digestive tract's iron absorption.

The stomach, pancreas, and gall bladder all empty into the duodenum, which continues the digestive process started in the stomach. The pancreas is an endocrine gland that secretes important hormones like insulin, but it is also a digestive organ that produces digestive enzymes which empty into the duodenum. The gall bladder helps with the digestion of fats and acts as a storage area for extra bile produced by the liver. It releases its contents into the duodenum when undigested fats are detected.

Duodenal obstruction prevents the stomach from passing foodstuffs into the duodenum, disrupting the digestive process and blocking the gall bladder and pancreas from adding their digestive secretions. The degree of duodenal obstruction can range from a partial to a complete blockage. The resulting symptoms for both infants and adults include nausea, abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal distension, and green vomit caused by the build-up of gall bladder secretions.

Some of the most common causes of duodenal obstruction in children and babies include an underdeveloped duodenal lumen, also known as the duodenal channel, which is called duodenal hypoplasia; a narrowed duodenal lumen, which is called duodenal stenosis; and a malformed duodenal lumen, which is called duodenal atresia. Malrotation or coiling of the duodenum is also a common cause of obstruction. Occasionally duodenal malrotation is accompanied by volvulus, which is when the duodenum twists around itself.

In adults, a blockage can occur from the ingestion of a foreign object which becomes wedged in or near the duodenum, or by the lodging of an internally sourced foreign object, such as a gallstone. Inflammation or infection caused by conditions like diverticulitis and Crohn's disease are common causes of duodenal obstruction in adults, but are much less common in children. Tumors, which can be benign or malignant, can cause a blockage. Scar tissue accumulation caused by peptic ulcers was once a common cause of obstruction, but improvement of the medical treatment of ulcers has greatly reduced such complications. In most cases, the medical treatment for a duodenal obstruction includes surgical intervention.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon347939 — On Sep 12, 2013

Until I have minor surgery to correct the narrowing in my duodenum, what are the best foods to eat, how often, etc.?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.