Symptoms of small bowel obstruction include cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating and distension, and an inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement.

Possible causes of bowel obstruction include scar tissue from previous surgery (adhesions), hernias, tumors, radiation therapy, and Crohn’s Disease.


The diagnosis is made by an x-ray of the abdomen called an Obstruction Series. Additional testing such as a CT Scan or Small Bowel Follow-Thru may be needed to better define the source of obstruction.


Initial treatment typically includes hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and medications to relieve pain and nausea. A thin plastic tube may be passed through the nose into the stomach (NG tube) to remove fluid and gas trapped above the obstruction. If these measures are not effective, surgery may be necessary to relieve the obstruction.