Current management of small-bowel obstruction

Awori J. Hayanga, Kirsten Bass-Wilkins, Gregory B. Bulkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most significant advances in the management of small-bowel obstruction are developments in imaging modalities available to assist in the diagnosis itself, as well as to possibly assist in the early identification of those cases requiring urgent operative decompression. The most marked of these have been in the use and interpretation of contrast-enhanced CT. This has decreased the use of barium studies and has largely supplanted ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging in the management of these patients. Diagnostic and therapeutic laparoscopic techniques are also growing in both capability and popularity. Laparoscopic adhesiolysis and the adjuvant of bioresorbable membranes each hold promise but have yet to become established as standard treatment. Further progress is needed in the detection of early, reversible strangulation. As a consequence, the fundamentals of the surgical management of small-bowel obstruction have evolved little over the past 15 years. With our persistent inability to detect reversible ischemia, a substantial risk of progression to irreversible ischemia remains when surgery is delayed, particularly in the setting of suspected complete obstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalAdvances in surgery
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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