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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 makes you unconscious and unable to feel pain.

The surgeon makes an incision (cut) in your belly to expose your intestines. Then the surgeon locates the area of your intestine (also called "bowel") that is blocked. The blockage will be freed.

Any injured sections of your bowel will be repaired or removed. If a section is removed, the healthy ends will be reconnected with stitches. 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 is called a colostomy or an ileostomy.

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 bowel obstruction, or blockage. A blockage that lasts for a long time can restrict blood flow to part of the bowel, 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

The time it takes to recover from bowel obstruction surgery depends on the type of operation that was done to correct the obstruction, and the person's general health.

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: 5/17/2010
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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