Intestinal obstruction is a significant mechanical impairment or complete arrest of the passage of contents through the intestine due to something that causes blockage of the bowel. Symptoms can include cramping pain, vomiting, obstipation, and lack of flatus. Diagnosis is clinical, confirmed by abdominal x-rays. Treatment is fluid resuscitation, nasogastric suction, and, in some cases of complete obstruction, surgery.
Mechanical obstruction is divided into obstruction of the small bowel (including the duodenum) and obstruction of the large bowel. Obstruction may be partial or complete. About 85% of partial small-bowel obstructions resolve with nonoperative treatment, whereas about 85% of complete small-bowel obstructions require surgery. Overall, the most common causes of mechanical obstruction are adhesions (scar tissue)
Patients with possible intestinal obstruction should be hospitalized. Treatment of acute intestinal obstruction must proceed simultaneously with diagnosis. A surgeon should always be involved.