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Intestinal obstruction

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Intestinal obstruction may be described variously as:

  • simple - lumen obstructed, blood supply intact
  • strangulated - blood supply occluded
  • closed loop - both limbs of loop are obstructed
  • partial or complete

It may be further classified according to the

  • rate of onset:
    • acute e.g. strangulated hernia
    • acute-on-chronic e.g. adhesional obstruction
    • chronic e.g. Crohn's disease
  • site along the bowel:
    • very high e.g. pyloric stenosis
    • high small bowel e.g. jejunal tumour
    • distal small bowel e.g. gallstone ileus
    • low colon e.g. rectal carcinoma
  • site of pathology in relation to the bowel wall:
    • in lumen
    • in wall
    • outside wall

Large bowel obstruction is principally due to:

  • carcinoma } 90% of
  • diverticulitis } cases
  • volvulus

Small bowel obstruction is mainly due to:

  • incarcerated hernia
  • adhesions

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