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Here are the symptoms of intestinal obstruction, as well as its diagnosis and treatment

INTESTINAL OBSTRUCTION – This is described as the blockage that hinders the food or liquid to pass through the small intestine or large intestine (colon).

The obstruction is classified into two: obstruction of the small bowel (including the duodenum) and obstruction of the large bowel. Based on the article from Mayo Clinic id the blockage remains untreated, the portion will die and may lead to other serious ailments.

intestinal obstruction
Photo courtesy of Aster Hospital


  • Crampy abdominal pain that comes and goes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Swelling of the abdomen


The most common causes are intestinal adhesions (bands of fibrous tissue in the abdominal cavity that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery) and colon cancer. Meanwhile, telescoping of the intestine (intussusception) is the most common cause among children.

Furthermore, there are other causes of intestinal obstruction such as hernias, diverticulitis, twisting of the colon (volvulus), impacted feces, and inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.


The doctor will do these following tests:

  • Physical exam

– ask about your medical history and symptoms

– physical exam to assess your situation

– listen for bowel sounds with a stethoscope.

  • X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Ultrasound
  • Air or barium enema


The treatment will depend on the cause of intestinal obstruction.


  • Placing an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your arm so that fluids can be given
  • Putting a nasogastric tube through your nose and into your stomach to suck out air and fluid and relieve abdominal swelling
  • Placing a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into your bladder to drain urine and collect it for testing


For the treatment for children with intussusception, barium or air enema is used.

Partial obstruction

A special low-fiber diet that is easier for your partially blocked intestine to process is recommended. If this did not work, surgery to relieve the obstruction might be needed.

Complete obstruction

Surgery to relieve the blockage might be recommended or the self-expanding metal stent for the complete obstruction.


The doctor may monitor your condition for a day or two in the hospital if you are diagnosed with pseudo-obstruction (paralytic ileus). You will be prescribed with medication once the paralytic ileus doesn’t improve on its own. If there’s a colon enlargement, decompression can be done with colonoscopy. according to the article, this is a procedure in which a thin tube is inserted into your anus and guided into the colon. This can also be done through surgery.

READ ALSO: Left Side Abdominal Pain: What Could Be The Problem?

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