Bowel obstruction

A bowel obstruction is a blockage in the intestines that prevents gas, fluids, or solids from moving through the intestines normally. Many different problems can cause a bowel obstruction, such as scar tissue from previous surgeries (adhesions), certain types of hernias, cancer, twisting of the intestines (volvulus), or diverticulitis.

Symptoms of a bowel obstruction include:

  • Cramping abdominal pain. The pain may affect all or part of the abdominal area and may be severe.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • An inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas.
  • Bloating.

A suspected bowel obstruction needs to be evaluated by a doctor and may require medical or surgical treatment.

Last Updated: May 7, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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