Your bowl is a section of your digestive tract that absorbed nutrients from the food that you eat. A bowel obstruction is when something stops the passage of stool and gas from going through your intestines. This can become very serious, even life-threatening, and it can require immediate surgery.
The most common blockage occurs when you have constipation or fecal impaction. It happens when a large mass of stool becomes stuck in your colon and won’t pass. But if something is causing the issue other than stool, then you have a bowel obstruction.
There are different types of bowel obstructions. The obstruction may be blocking your bowel partially, completely, or what is known as a pseudo-obstruction. The first two are usually caused by internal scar tissue that can be caused by a previous surgery. Pseudo-obstruction is when you have all the symptoms of an obstruction, but nothing is blocking. Your body just thinks there is something.
There are unmistakable signs when you have a bowel obstruction. The symptoms may include your abdomen being distended with a feeling of fullness. You could have painful spasms. You may become nauseous with or without vomiting, and you may not be able to pass gas. Lastly, you may have foul-smelling breath.
Your bowel may have become blocked from several sources. Part of your bowel could have become twisted. If it becomes twisted, then it can close off and not let anything pass through. Or your bowel could become inflamed and swell.
Another issue is if your bowel has slid into another part, similar to a telescope intussusception. Plus, any scar tissue that's present or a hernia can make your bowel too narrow to let anything slide past. There could be a growth or a tumor inside your bowel, which is causing the issue. Lastly, if some blood vessels are damaged, which leads to the bowel, it can cause some of your bowel tissue to die. Bowel obstructions can occur in either your small or large intestine. However, it seems to happen in the small intestine more frequently.
Your doctor will do a physical exam to find out if there is pain in your stomach or if you can pass gas, or if there's a lump in your stomach. Blood tests, a urine test, a CT scan, or an X-ray to see if there is a blockage. You could be given an enema.
If an obstruction is found, you will need to be admitted to the hospital, where the doctor will prescribe fluid through an IV and medication. You could receive an enema of fluid or air to help clear the blockage.
If this doesn't work, then surgery is usually the subsequent treatment. 80% of the time, surgery can be avoided.
With surgery, your doctor can treat what is causing the obstruction or take out the area which is blocked. If the damaged part of the intestine is removed, you may need a colostomy or ileostomy. The stool will then exist through the opening and into a disposable bag.