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Intestinal obstruction

  • Alternative Names

    Paralytic ileus; Intestinal volvulus; Bowel obstruction; Ileus; Pseudo-obstruction - intestinal; Colonic ileus

    • Abdominal distention
    • Abdominal fullness, gas
    • Abdominal pain and cramping
    • Breath odor
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting

    Signs and tests

    While listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope, your health care provider may hear high-pitched bowel sounds at the onset of mechanical obstruction. If the obstruction has persisted for too long or the bowel has been significantly damaged, bowel sounds decrease, eventually becoming silent.

    Early paralytic ileus is marked by decreased or absent bowel sounds.

    Tests that show obstruction include:

    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Abdominal x-ray
    • Barium enema
    • Upper GI and small bowel series