A bowel obstruction describes any physical blockage in the small intestine that prevents digested matter from passing through it. The most common cause is a malformation of the small intestine, but it can also be caused by compacted stool or, more rarely, a foreign object.
Bowel obstruction is a life-threatening medical emergency, requiring medical attention. In most cases, the obstruction will resolve itself, but in rare cases the patient may require surgery. Patients will be given fluids, monitored for pain and bowel motility (by using a stethoscope to monitor bowel sounds) and a full radiological work up.