Bowel strangulation is a serious condition in which a part of intestine may get twisted and strangulated cutting the blood supply of the intestine. This can lead to incarceration and gangrene within short period of time. Strangulation of intestine produces symptoms such as bloating of the abdomen, abdominal cramps, and loss of appetite. Vomiting, constipation, and fever are few other important signs of intestinal strangulation. Sometimes if the bowel is partially obstructed intestine may cause diarrhea.
Bowel strangulation can occur due to many reasons such as a volvulus, intussuception, and strangulated hernia.Most patients need to be treated for strangulation of the intestine. Depending on the severity of the condition, patient may be treated conservatively with intravenous fluids, no intake by mouth etc. If the conservative treatment fails, patient may need to be operated.
What Causes A Strangulated Bowel?
There are several causes of intestinal strangulation. The most common cause is strangulation of hernia; volvulus and intussusception are two other relative causes that can cause intestinal twisting. Tumor of intestine and the adjacent organs of abdomen, and inflammatory bowel disease can also lead to strangulation.
Adhesions that remain after an abdominal surgery can cause turn the intestine sometime causing severe twisting of the intestine and cut in blood supply.
- Hernia: Hernia is a condition in which the organ pushes into the weak muscles and tissues that is holding it. Hernia can occur at any place, but it is most frequent entity in the abdomen. Inguinal hernia may sometimes get strangulated. Inguinal hernia which is common in men occurs in the lower part of abdomen where a part of intestine passes through the inguinal canal into the scrotum. Constant coughing, repeated straining at stool, obesity all can weaken the abdominal wall leading to hernia.
- Volvulus: A volvulus is twisting of the intestine itself and the mesentery that supports it. The symptoms of volvulus are pain in abdomen, bloody stool, constipation, abdominal bloating etc.
- Intussuception: It is a condition in which a part of intestine collapses and overlaps the adjacent section of the intestine.
Signs And Symptoms Of Strangulated Bowel
Strangulation of intestine is a serious health condition. It can develop abruptly or may take some time. Strangulation can be complete or partial. It can occur in children as well as adults. The most common symptom of strangulation is pain in the abdomen. Patient complains of moderate or severe pain in abdomen which is constant.
Vomiting is another important symptom that may precede strangulation. However, it may depend on the severity of strangulation. In severe cases of strangulation, patient may start vomiting soon after the obstruction of the intestine. If strangulation is incomplete, vomiting may occur at a later period. Sometimes there may be associated constipation or diarrhea. In intussuception there may be bloody stool with thick mucus. As the condition worsens patient may also present with fever.
Treatment For Strangulated Bowel
As mentioned earlier, intestinal strangulation is a serious condition. Patient has to consult his doctor for the treatment. In most cases patient is kept under observation in hospital. He is put on an intravenous drip and advised not to eat anything by mouth for few hours or a day. Nasogastric tube is introduced through the nose into the stomach to collect all the gastric secretion from time to time.
All these measures are meant to give complete rest to the intestine. Antibiotics are administered to treat infection. If no improvement is found within few hours patient may need surgical intervention to relieve strangulation and prevent gangrene and death of the affected intestinal tissue.