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Doctor insights on: What Happens With An Untreated Bowel Obstruction

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What happens if you ignore a bowel obstruction?

What happens if you ignore a bowel obstruction?

Serious: A true bowel obstruction is most commonly from adhesions or scar from past surgery. A true bowel obstruction results in increasing abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, lack of bowel movement, dehydration. The bowel is at risk for ischemia or internal rupture. It can result in serious sepsis and death if untreated. Note: constipation alone is not a true bowel obstruction. ...Read more

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Dr. Adam Levy
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31 years in practice
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Intestine (Definition)

The gastrointestinal tract starts at the mouth, travel down the tunnel (esophagus), which connects to the stomach, which then empties into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum---the three parts of the small intestine (@25 feet). This empties into the colon or large intestine (about 5 feet), which then becomes the sigmoid colon, rectum and out the anus. So, every morsel eaten ...Read more


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I just had a bowel obstruction and surgery for the first time in my life dr said should have never happened. a week later i am having same symptoms c?

I just had a bowel obstruction and surgery for the first time in my life dr said should have never happened.  a week later i am having same symptoms c?

See your Dr: If you are developing the same symptoms as before the surgery you should see your surgeon or ER doctor as soon as possible. It's unlikely you have another bowel obstruction and more likely your bowels have not "woken up" completely yet, but to be sure you should have some x-rays at the very least. ...Read more

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Dr. Adam Levy
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31 years in practice
487K people helped
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If I had a small bowel obstruction with a closed loop and herniation in to the omentum, what is the likelyhood it could happen again?

If I had a small bowel obstruction with a closed loop and herniation in to the omentum, what is the likelyhood it could happen again?

Unlikely: If you had surgery, which i assume you did, the chances of a recuurent bowel obstruction are low but possible. It is very infrequent that people require multiple surgerires for recurrent bowel obstructions. ...Read more

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Dr. Adam Levy
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How long to recover from major bowel obstruction?

Depends: It depends on whether it was managed conservatively with bowel rest or required surgery. Also depends on definition of recovery. If you refer to eating regular food and having bm's that can be 1-2 days but may take even longer depending on the degree of obstruction. If surgery was required, full recovery to unlimitted activity is 4-6 weeks. ...Read more

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What are bowel obstruction symptoms?

Pain and distension: First comes abdominal pain followed by abdominal swelling + tenderness. Then vomiting of stomach contents followed by greenish (bile)vomiting. May feel like passing flatus, but cannot + bowel movements will cease. Abdominal sounds will be absent due to ileus. Plain abdominal xray will demonstrate distended bowel loops with "air fluid levels. See dr. For severe pain, abdo distension + green vomitus. ...Read more

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Bowel obstruction how long to heal?

Bowel obstruction how long to heal?

Depends: Did you have surgery to treat the obstruction? Were you hospitalized and treated medically only? Are you describing bowel constipation? Takes 4-6 weeks to recover from surgery. Takes a few days to recover after medical treatment. Would need much more detailed medical information to answer further. ...Read more

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How is a bowel obstruction diagnosed?

How is a bowel obstruction diagnosed?

Combination: Bowel obstruction is diagnosed using a combination of patient history, physical exam, and scans (x-rays, ct, etc.). Sometimes the physical exam findings are so obvious that scans are not required. Some partial bowel obstructions can be very difficult to diagnose and may elude doctors and patients for months. ...Read more

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Dr. Susan Madonna
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Bowel Obstruction (Definition)

The intestinal tract is one, long distensible pipe from the stomach to the anus consisting of 30-40 ft of small intestine (for nutrient absorption) and 5 ft of large intestine (for water absorption). Obstruction may occur at any point, causing upstream distention, cramping pain, vomiting, and obstipation (no gas or bm out the bottom). Rx may require surgery ...Read more


Obstruction (Definition)

Anything that creates a blockage of the intestinal tract. You may think of the intestinal tract (stomach, small bowel, large bowel) as somewhat akin to a garden hose. If you kink the garden hose, or twist it, or block it inside, you have created an "obstruction". Most obstructions are a results of previous surgery and most of these ...Read more


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Dr. Adam Levy
Board Certified, Obstetrics and Gynecology
31 years in practice
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