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Intestinal obstruction repair

Definition

Intestinal obstruction repair is surgery to relieve a bowel obstruction. A bowel obstruction is when the contents of the intestines cannot pass through and exit the body. A complete obstruction is a surgical emergency.

See also:

Alternative Names

Repair of volvulus; Paralytic ileus - repair; Intestinal volvulus - repair; Bowel obstruction - repair; Ileus - repair

Description

Intestinal obstruction repair is done while you are under general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and unable to feel pain.

The surgeon makes a cut in your belly so he or she can see your intestines. Sometimes, the surgery can be done using a laparascope, which means smaller cuts are used.

The surgeon locates the area of your intestine (bowel) that is blocked and unblocks it.

Any damaged parts of your bowel will be repaired or removed. If a section is removed, the healthy ends will be reconnected with stitches or staples. Sometimes when part of the intestine is removed, the ends cannot be reconnected. If this happens, the surgeon will bring one end out through an opening in the abdominal wall. This may be done using a colostomy , ileostomy, or mucous fistula.

The surgeon will also check the blood flow to the rest of the bowel.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

This procedure is done to relieve a blockage in your intestine. A blockage that lasts for a long time can interfere with blood flow to the area, which can cause the bowel to die.

Surgery is often needed to treat a bowel obstruction. The type of surgery that is done depends on the cause of the obstruction.

Risks

Risks for any surgery include:

  • Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Infection, including in the lungs, urinary tract, and belly

Other risks of abdominal surgery include:

  • Bleeding inside your belly
  • Bowel leakage
  • Bowel obstruction after surgery
  • Damage to nearby organs in the body
  • Formation of scar tissue (adhesions)
  • More scar tissue forming in your belly and causing a blockage of your intestines in the future
  • Opening of the edges of your intestines that are sewn together (anastomotic leak), which may cause life-threatening problems
  • Problems with colostomy or ileostomy
  • Temporary paralysis (freezing up) of the bowel (paralytic ileus)
  • Wound (incision) infection
  • Wound opening up (dehiscence)

After the Procedure

How long it takes to recover depends on your overall health and the type of operation.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome is usually good if the obstruction is treated before tissue damage or death occurs in the bowel.

People who have had many abdominal surgeries may form scar tissue. These patients are more likely to have bowel obstructions in the future.

References

Turnage RH, Heldmann M, Cole P. Intestinal obstruction and illeus. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 116.


Review Date: 5/16/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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