Bowel Obstruction

An intestinal obstruction is a blockage of the small or large intestine (colon). The blockage makes it hard for the contents of the intestine to pass through and out of the body. If the obstruction is only partly blocking the intestine, you may feel some relief of crampy abdominal pain and fullness as you pass liquid stool or gas. Sometimes the blockage cuts off blood flow to part of the bowel. The lack of blood flow can cause death of some of the tissue and can be life threatening.

Causes of Bowel Obstructions

The most common cause of an intestinal obstruction is scar tissue (adhesions) from previous surgeries. Other causes of a blockage may include:

  • Cancer
  • Inflammation of the bowel from conditions such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis
  • Twisting of the bowel
  • A hard lump of stool (impaction)
  • Intussusception, which is the intestine telescoping into itself
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