Acute Care Surgery for Bowel Obstruction

A bowel obstruction can be sudden, requiring acute care surgery. The surgical process includes removing the material blocking the intestines and repairing the region that might have incurred damage from the obstruction. The blocking materials range from cancer, feces, twists in the bowel, infectious abscesses, or polyps, to name a few. Upper East Side acute care surgery is necessary since the obstruction can quickly turn into a life-threatening incidence.

Bowel obstruction surgery helps save the small/large intestines and prevents dangerous complications of untreated blockage. Such complications include:

  • Intestinal tissue death (necrosis)
  • Permanent intestinal damage
  • Electrolyte disturbance
  • Intestinal bleeding/leaking
  • Prevent food or stool from passing through the bowels
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bowel’s blood flow concerns, among others

When such complications arise, you are at higher risk of multiple organ failure, hypotension, and death. Bowel obstruction is a serious issue requiring acute care surgery, with the mortality rate within the first 36 hours reduced to an average of 8 %. Delaying the treatment beyond 36 hours increases the mortality rate to an average of 25%.


If you experience intermittent cramping, severe pain, or changes in bowel movements, consult your doctor for an immediate assessment. The assessment starts with a physical exam, including checking the abdomen and considering bowel sounds. Physical exams can establish the obstruction location, number, and potential causes in most instances.

The doctor could undertake other tests, including abdominal X-ray, CT scan (computerized tomography), or ultrasound. The tests either employ IV injection or the use of contrast material. Barium enema, for example, is a common option. It is an invasive imaging check undertaken by inserting contrast material in the rectum, helping to visualize the intestinal structures. The assessment could also include a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, tests that entail the use of a camera inserted through the colon for visualization. The evaluations determine bowel obstruction causes, the common including:

  • Hernia
  • Rotation
  • Constriction
  • A mechanical obstruction such as due to swelling, cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ischemic colitis
  • Myopathy or neuropathy

In most instances, acute care surgery is performed as an emergency intervention. It means you won’t have much time to prepare. The surgery is undertaken in an operating room and under general anesthesia. Your doctor will consider your medical history, including active prescription, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you are using. This is since some mediation can impact the surgery. For example, blood thinners can lead to excessive bleeding, a complication that can impact your overall health.

After the surgery, you can get out of bed within a few hours, following your general health status. It will take some days to urinate and walk on your own after open surgery. You will be given the green light to start taking small amounts of fluids once you can pass the gas. When your body is ready, you can advance to soft foods.

Before discharge, the healthcare provider will furnish you with information, including:

  • Medication
  • Wound care
  • Infection and complication signs to look out for
  • When to go for follow-up checks
  • Diet, and
  • Activity

After the surgery, you might spend 5-8 days in the hospital. It also takes a few weeks/months to return to your normal routine following your health and how well you manage the recovery process. Intestinal obstructions can be fatal or cause serious health concerns. This emphasizes the need for acute care surgery. Visit Surgical Specialists of NY for emergency treatment, helping you avoid the adverse consequences of untreated intestinal obstruction.