Bowel Obstruction


When you eat, the food particles travel through long tubes known as intestines, before they are digested and become waste matter. A blockage in your intestines can cause the movement to be blocked which prevents the passage of fluid or digested food. This causes pressure to build up and the intestine may rupture. 

The obstruction can be due to mechanical factors such as adhesions or scar tissue formed after surgery, gallstones, tumours or hernias. They may also be caused without any structural problems from factors including bacteria, virus, chemical imbalances or infections. 

Bowel obstruction requires prompt medical treatment or it may lead to severe complications and pain. ​

Symptoms of bowel obstruction include:

  • Cramps and abdominal pain

  • Nausea 

  • Vomiting

  • Swelling

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Inability to pass gas

If not treated within twenty four to forty eight hours, bowel obstruction can get complicated by rupture of intestine resulting in spillage of faeces into whole abdomen.

If you are facing any of the above symptoms, seek immediate help from your doctor working with the  GI and Surgery Service Line​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Timely diagnosis and treatment is very important in bowel obstruction.

​Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started.

​Bowel obstruction may or may not be treated with surgery, depending on cause and severity of obstruction. If you have a partial mechanical obstruction, your doctor will attempt to treat you with medications However, if the obstruction is not resolved then you doctor may advise you for surgical intervention.

​Please click here for some guidelines on what to do before your surgery.

​Please click here for some guidelines on what to do on the day of your surgery​.

There can be some complications caused during bowel obstructions, including:

  • Rupture of intestine: If not treated within twenty four to forty eight hours,  bowel obstruction can get complicated by rupture of the intestine resulting in spillage of faeces into the abdomen

  • Infection: Infection in the abdominal cavity can be life-threatening and usually needs to be treated surgically.​

​Please click here for some guidelines on what to do after your surgery​.

​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.