How common is abdominal distention in patients with small-bowel obstruction (SBO) and what do abnormal bowel sounds indicate?

Updated: Apr 28, 2017
  • Author: Mityanand Ramnarine, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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Answer

Abdominal distention is present in about 60% of patients with small-bowel obstruction (SBO). [3] The duodenal or proximal small bowel has less distention when obstructed than the distal bowel has when obstructed. Hyperactive bowel sounds occur early as gastrointestinal (GI) contents attempt to overcome the obstruction; hypoactive bowel sounds occur later in the disease process.


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