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Intestinal obstruction repair


Intestinal obstruction repair is surgery to relieve a bowel obstruction (blockage). A complete obstruction is a surgical emergency, no matter what the cause is.

Alternative Names

Repair of volvulus; Reduction of intussusception, lysis of intestinal adhesions


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.

See also: Large bowel resection

Sometimes when part of the intestine is removed, the ends cannot be reconnected. If this happens, the surgeon will bring the ends out through an opening called a colostomy. The surgeon will make this opening in your belly.

The surgeon will also examine the bowel for lack of blood flow.


Risks for any surgery are:

  • 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 are:

  • Bowel leakage
  • Formation of scar tissue (adhesions)
  • Bowel obstruction after surgery
  • Temporary paralysis (freezing up) of the bowel (paralytic ileus)
  • Damage to nearby organs in the body
  • Wound (incision) infection
  • Wound opening up
  • Bleeding inside your belly
  • The edges of your intestines that are sewn together may open. This may cause life-threatening problems.
  • More scar tissue may form in your belly and cause blockage of your intestines.
  • Problems with colostomy or Ileostomy.

Review Date: 1/26/2009
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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