Small Bowel Obstruction

A bowel obstruction occurs when particles of food are caught in the twists and turns of the intestinal tract. This can happen if you have any type of blockage, if a section of bowel is improperly twisted and closed off, if severe inflammation closes off the passage, or if a stricture has become so narrow that it stops food at that point. This obstruction is more likely to happen in the small bowel, but it can also happen in the large intestine.


High-fiber foods are more likely to cause obstructions than low-fiber foods, because of the rough residue that accompanies undigestible fibrous material.

When the body cannot expel food out the bottom end as it should, it is left with only one other choice. A bowel obstruction is accompanied by a feeling of tightness or pressure in the abdomen, and if not remedied will most likely result in severe nausea and vomiting.

The pressure associated with an obstruction may soon become very painful and begin to throb or pulsate every few seconds or minutes as food builds up and the bowel attempts to push the food through the tight space. If left untreated, a severe obstruction could cause rupturing, which you do NOT want to mess with.


Often with an obstruction, the pressure that builds up behind it must be relieved before the blockage can naturally clear itself. Doctors will usually resort to surgery only if the blockage doesn’t clear itself with treatment.

A common treatment for intestinal obstructions is the placement of a nasogastric tube, called an NG tube for short. Basically, they insert a flexible tube that resembles a fish tank line up your nose and down into your stomach.

They connect the tube to a suction pump that slowly pulls stomach fluids and air up from your stomach and relieves the pressure over the course of several hours or days. The worst part is going in – after that, you get used to it and coming up it feels SO good getting that thing out of you!


Here’s a tip if you’re worried about a small bowel obstruction: Lie down on your back, on the floor or on your bed. Make sure you have enough room between you and the ceiling to extend your legs upward, then curl into a ball and slowly lift your legs up and support your lower back with your hands, resting your elbows against the ground or bed. What you’re doing is turning your bowels upside down to let any trapped matter move around and shift itself so that air can escape.

Stay like this for several minutes, and if you can maintain your balance try swiveling your hips or swaying from side to side to loosen things up. Sometimes this can be really helpful if you have gas associated with Crohn’s, but it can also alleviate the pressure in your abdomen as a result.

This might help, but don’t use this tip in place of medical advice! See your doctor or get to a hospital if you think something is seriously wrong!

Small Bowel Obstruction ICD-9 codesmall-bowel-obstruction-icd-9

A small bowel obstruction is categorized as an “unspecified intestinal obstruction”. It therefor has the same ICD 9 code, which means that the
ICD-9 code for small bowel obstruction is also 560.9

ICD 9 codes are issued by the Word Health Organization. They provide an international standard to classify diagnoses of medical conditions.