Bowel strangulation occurs when a segment of the bowels or the intestines gets trapped in a hernia and the supply of blood is cut off. Necrosis of the bowel can occur, leading to serious complications and even death if medical treatment is not provided promptly. The condition is excruciatingly painful and must not be neglected as it could be fatal within a short interval of time.
The condition can affect both adults as well as babies. In infants having hernia, around 1 out of 10 develop strangulated hernia. Adults are known to develop strangulation of the bowels and the condition is a surgical emergency.
Symptoms include constipation alternating with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal distension, fever and abdominal pain. Strangulation occurs when a section of the bowel which has projected from the abdominal wall no longer receives blood supply. The hernia opening is narrow and tight and it cuts off the artery that is providing the intestine with blood. Consequently, the herniated part of the intestine begins to die and this triggers pain.
Nausea and vomiting in the presence of a hernia is a symptom of an emergency situation. Fever is caused by the death of intestinal tissue. When the tissue dies, there occurs a bacterial multiplication and gangrene sets in. The body’s immune mechanism tries to fight back and this raises the body temperature.
What Causes A Strangulated Bowel?
A hernia develops when there is a weak spot in the abdominal wall. This can occur at birth usually in preterm babies or in adults. Increased abdominal pressure especially when it is for a protracted period of time is the chief cause. Persistent coughing, repeatedly straining during bowel movements, those in to heavy weight lifting, obesity and multiple pregnancies cause abdominal wall weakening.
The abdominal wall holds the abdominal organs in. If there occurs a breach or opening then an organ protrudes. The bowels are long and coiled can tend to protrude easily and become trapped within leading to strangulation. This is known as an incarcerated hernia.
Due to the entrapment, the bowels get pinched and the blood vessels get compressed causing the blood supply to get halted. When the blood supply is cut off the tissue will die and peritonitis will set in and this can even cause death.
Treatment For Strangulated Bowel
Bowel strangulation is a medical emergency and requires prompt surgical intervention. Your surgeon will first attempt to reduce the hernia and send the bowel back in to place. The hernia should not be forced back in though, since this will completely cut off any minor blood flow to the organ which is keeping the bowel tissue alive. Thereafter, the doctor will repair the breach in the abdominal wall and strengthen and reinforce it. Repair of the hernia immediately is very vital so as to prevent it from recurring.
Pain killers will be administered to deal with the pain and discomfort. An antibiotic course is started to manage the bacterial proliferation and to prevent peritonitis. Symptomatic treatment is also given to allay the other associated symptoms of the condition. A hospital stay of about 2 to 3 days is necessary.