Vascular obstruction

A vascular obstruction occurs in the large bowel when an artherosclerotic narrowing interrupts the blood supply to the bowel. This narrowing inhibits peristalsis and can lead to life-threatening intestinal ischaemia in less than one hour. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, intractable constipation and abdominal distension. Intervention strategies for patients with vascular intestinal obstruction involve the following:

• Regulation of fluids and electrolytes (intravenously).

• Administration of analgesia and anti-emetics.

• Restoration of bowel patency.

• Use of nasogastric suction to relieve abdominal distension.

• Administration of antibiotics to treat bacterial growth.

After abdominal distension has been controlled, surgical intervention may be required depending on the source of the obstruction.

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