What is Bowel obstruction?
A bowel obstruction also known as the intestinal obstruction is the inability of the feces to excrete out due to a blockage in either the small or the large intestine. It is considered to be a dangerous condition and lead to many complications. Bowel obstruction is a gastrointestinal condition which also slows down the movement of food. Bowel obstruction is of two types
- Partial bowel obstruction- where the bowel obstruction is partial and can cause diarrhea.
- Full or complete bowel obstruction – in this condition an individual can find very difficult to pass stool or gas.
Bowel Obstruction Symptoms and Signs
Bowel obstructions can be a very distressing, painful and embarrassing situation. One can observe the following symptoms due to bowel obstruction.
- Abdominal pain and cramps in the abdomen
- Feeling full and do not like to eat the much-causing loss of appetite
- Irregular and infrequent evacuation of the bowels
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Inability to pass fecal matter or gas
- Swollen abdomen due to bloating
- Diarrhea is a partial bowel obstruction symptom
What causes Bowel Obstruction?
Bowel obstruction causes are basically of two types which involve Mechanical obstructions – These are a physical barrier that inhibits or prevents the flow of matter through the bowels.
Mechanical obstructions may include:
- Diverticulitis – inflammation of small pouches developed along the walls of intestines.
- Any substance ingested or swallowed.
- Development of gall stones can also cause obstruction
- Intestinal hernia
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs)
Non- Mechanical Obstructions –
Defecation is normally caused due to peristaltic movement caused by the muscles present in the intestine. Non-mechanical obstruction may also refer as ileus or paralytic ileus that occurs if the intestinal muscles function poorly. It is mostly temporary and can be treated.
Usually, there is large bowel obstruction or small bowel obstruction because they move in a coordinated way through contractions. If something interrupts this process, a non-mechanical obstruction can occur.
However, some of the causes of Non-mechanical bowel obstructions include:
- Surgery of the abdomen or pelvis
- Chronic conditions like diabetes
- Certain imbalances of electrolyte in the body
- Hirschsprung disease
- Some nerve and muscle disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
- Certain medicines like opioids
Risk factors of Bowel Obstruction
Some of the risk factors that can indirectly or directly lead to bowel obstruction include
- Cancer of the abdomen
- Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel syndrome
- Abdominal or pelvic surgery that can cause tissue adhesion and lead to bowel obstruction
- Radiation therapy
Bowel obstruction diagnosis
After understanding the symptoms of an individual a doctor may start the diagnostic procedure by physical examination, your doctor may feel the hard lump in the abdomen which is due to the obstruction in the abdomen.
Physical examination – A doctor can also check the regular or irregular movement of the bowel by using a stethoscope. Depending upon the condition of the patient the doctor can also advise undergoing certain blood tests in order to check the kidney and liver function. A doctor can use a stethoscope to check a person’s bowel activity. A lack of regular bowel sounds, or the sounds being unusually quiet, can suggest a bowel obstruction.
X-ray. An abdominal x-ray can help the doctor diagnose and confirm the presence of intestinal obstruction and its symptoms.
Computerized tomography (CT): A CT scan can accurately indicate the presence of intestinal obstruction with the images taken from a different cross-sectional angle. It provides a clear picture when compared to X-ray.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound is often preferred in children suffering from intestinal obstruction as other scans like X-Ray, CT scan, are considered to emit harmful radiation which is not suitable for children.
Air or barium enema. An air or barium enema is a procedure where your doctor inserts air or liquid barium into the colon through the rectum to check for any colon obstruction. This diagnostic test provides clear and enhanced imaging of the colon. Most of the time it can treat the problem of bowel obstruction.
Bowel Obstruction Treatment
various procedures of bowel obstruction treatment will totally depend upon the cause of the disease. Like, in case of total mechanical blockage, surgery will be the most effective option. Most of the bowel obstructions will also need some form of hospital intervention to get relieved completely from the problem. If an individual is suspected with a bowel obstruction, then they should seek medical advice as soon as possible for avoiding the situation to become life-threatening. Various types of treatments are described as follows:
Various conservative treatments are as follows:
People suffering from temporary bowel obstruction due to stress, or usage of drugs like opioids are treated with laxatives and other stool softeners to help combat the bowel obstruction problem.
if a person is suffering from bowel obstruction due to Ileus. The doctor may keep the patient under observation for a few days. During the observation period, the doctor advises to limit the food and drink to inhibit the buildup. They may be offered plenty of fluids intravenously to keep themselves hydrated during this condition.
Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube)
In order to comfort the patient, your doctor may insert a small tube from your nose and it goes down into your stomach. The tube will then starts removing fluids or entrapped gas inside your stomach causing stomach obstruction and relieve the patient from pain and vomiting.
Medicinal treatments are as follows
In this procedure, barium or enema may be used for the diagnosis and treatment of intussusception. During this procedure air or a liquid containing a contrast is directly injected through the rectum and then reach to the bowel. The pressurized air or liquid present in it will create the pressure on the large bowel and will push out the folded pieces of bowel easily. This treatment is not always successful though and further surgery may be required in some of the cases.
Surgical treatments are as follows
For complete blockage or severe type of stricture, bowel obstruction surgery is the only option required and is the best option to rectify the whole problem. There are several surgical procedures available that can be performed depending upon the cause of the blockage. It is a very common procedure for those who have a chronic illness such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis which requires surgery in order to get relieved from the blocked or narrowed intestines. Some of the procedures are explained as follows:
Large Bowel Resection
In this kind of surgical procedure, the blocked or the diseased part of the colon or large bowel may be surgically removed. The surgery is performed by laparoscopic method (i.e., via keyhole) and it is conducted as an open surgery method in emergency cases. If there is enough healthy large intestine left, then the ends will be stitched together or the individual may be given with a colostomy in which the colon is routed through an open cut directly into the abdomen. The patient will then need to wear an ostomy bag over the top for the collection of the waste.
Small Bowel Resection
In this procedure, a small bowel resection is made and the diseased or blocked part of the small bowel is surgically removed. The surgery is usually performed by a laparoscopic method (i.e., via keyhole) and performed as open surgery in an emergency case. If there is enough healthy small intestine left, then the ends will be stitched together or the patient may be given an ileostomy where the small bowel is routed through an open cut into the abdomen. Then the patient will need to wear an ostomy bag for the collection of the waste.
It is a surgical operation, which is usually performed on the patients suffering from Crohn’s disease affecting the small bowels. Crohn’s disease can also cause narrowing or strictures which can block the bowel movement and cause extreme pain. A strictureplasty is done when the narrowed section is being cut and sewn horizontally to widen the whole intestine.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications
Some of the changes related to diet and lifestyle can help treat the problem naturally like exercise, eating smaller portions of food, chewing food well, cutting down on caffeine, consuming semi-liquid diet after bowel obstruction surgery, avoiding tough or stringy foods and high-fiber foods, keeping yourself hydrated, and quitting smoking.
Complications of Bowel obstruction
A bowel obstruction can lead to various other complications if not treated; some of them are listed below:
- Bowel obstruction leads to loss of appetite causing electrolyte imbalance in the body, dehydration and kidney failure.
- Due to the accumulation of bowels in the intestine, one can suffer from tissue death in the bowels, a hole in the bowel, causing abscess within the abdomen, all of which could lead to infection worsening the situation.
- It may also cause sepsis which is potentially a fatal blood infection, that can even lead to multiple organ failure.
- People undergone surgical treatment for bowel obstruction are at risk of developing other complications, which include tissue adhesions, nerve damage, bowel paralysis, short bowel syndrome, and wound reopening.
- Apart from all the above-mentioned complications, bowel obstruction can also interrupt the blood flow in the area which can lead to multiple organ failure and death. As a result, it is always important to consult a doctor if you experience bowel obstruction and symptoms associated with it as soon as possible.
Prevention of bowel obstruction
Bowel obstruction is a common problem and to prevent yourself from bowel obstruction and its symptoms to occur. The following things should be considered.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle, try to eat smaller amounts of food, chew the food nicely, exercise daily, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. These are the choices that can lower the risks of bowel obstruction by keeping the bowels healthy.
- If one is suffering from irregular bowel movements they should try medications such as laxatives and stool softeners to keep bowel movements regular.
- One should consult their doctor immediately to start the treatment procedure as early as possible to lower the risk of a bowel obstruction.
Advantages of Pristyn care offering treatment for bowel obstruction
Pristyn care laser clinic is one of the best clinics that offer a wide range of laser treatment options for bowel obstruction. They help the patients throughout there journey by offering them a wide range of specialists available to treat them. Pristyn care ensures treating their patients with the most advanced techniques which are USFDA approved.