What is the incidence of small-bowel obstruction (SBO) and what are the causes of SBO?

Updated: Apr 28, 2017
  • Author: Mityanand Ramnarine, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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In the United States, 15 of every 100 admissions for abominal pain are due to small-bowel obstruction (SBO), with 300,000 admissions annually. [8]  An SBO is caused by a variety of pathologic processes. The leading cause of SBO in industrialized countries is postoperative adhesions (65-75%), followed by malignancy, Crohn disease, and hernias, although some studies have reported Crohn disease as a greater etiologic factor than neoplasia. Surgeries most closely associated with SBO are appendectomy, colorectal surgery, and gynecologic and upper gastrointestinal (GI) procedures (see the image below). (See Etiology.)

Small bowel obstruction. Image courtesy of Ademola Small bowel obstruction. Image courtesy of Ademola Adewale, MD.

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