What are common complaints of patients with small-bowel obstruction (SBO)?

Updated: Apr 28, 2017
  • Author: Mityanand Ramnarine, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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Patients presenting with SBO often report the following:

  • Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery, previous radiation therapy, or both

  • History of malignancy: Particularly ovarian and colonic malignancy

  • Inflammatory bowel disease 

  • Nausea/vomiting (60-80%): The vomitus can often be bilious in nature 

  • Constipation/absence of flatus (80-90%): Typically a later finding of SBO

  • Abdominal distention (60%)

  • Fever and tachycardia: Late findings; may be associated with strangulation

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