Causes, incidence, and risk factors
- A mechanical cause, which means something is in the way
- Ileus, a condition in which the bowel doesn't work correctly but there is no structural problem
- Bacteria or viruses that cause intestinal infections (gastroenteritis)
- Chemical, electrolyte, or mineral imbalances (such as decreased potassium levels)
- Complications of abdominal surgery
- Decreased blood supply to the intestines (mesenteric ischemia)
- Infections inside the abdomen, such as appendicitis
- Kidney or lung disease
- Use of certain medications, especially narcotics
Signs and tests
- Electrolyte (blood chemical and mineral) imbalances
- Hole (perforation) in the intestine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
Calling your health care provider
- Cannot pass stool or gas
- Have a swollen abdomen (distention) that does not go away
- Keep vomiting
- McKenzie S, Evers BM. Small intestine. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2012:chap 50.
- Fry RD, Mahmoud N, Maron DJ, Bleier JIS. Colon and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2012:chap 52.
- Turnage RH, Heldmann M. Intestinal obstruction. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 119.
- Review Date: 7/25/2012.Reviewed by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington; and Joshua Kunin, MD, Consulting Colorectal Surgeon, Zichron Yaakov, Israel. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.