Intestinal obstruction repair

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

  • Alternative Names
    • Repair of volvulus; Intestinal volvulus - repair; Bowel obstruction - repair

  • Description
    • Intestinal obstruction repair is done while you are under general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and DO NOT feel pain.

      The surgeon makes a cut in your belly to see your intestines. Sometimes, the surgery can be done using a laparoscope, 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. This procedure is called bowel resection. 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.

  • 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 reduce or block blood flow to the area. This can cause the bowel to die.

  • Risks
    • Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general include:

      • Reactions to medicines, breathing problems
      • Bleeding, blood clots, infection

      Risks of this procedure:

      • 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)
  • 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 bowel blood flow is affected.

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

  • References
    • Boniface K. Bowel obstructions. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine: Clinical Essentials. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 40.

      Fry RD, Mahmoud NN, Maron DJ, Bleier JIS. Colon and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 52.

      Mizell JS, Turnage RH. Intestinal obstruction. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 123.