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Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Oct-Dec;16(4):272-4. doi: 10.4103/1319-3767.70613.

Pattern of acute intestinal obstruction: is there a change in the underlying etiology?

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Pakistan.



To study the changing pattern of acute intestinal obstruction at a teaching institute.


It is a prospective descriptive study conducted at a teaching hospital during the period from June 2004 to June 2009. All patients with clinical or radiological evidence of acute intestinal obstruction were included in this study regardless of the gender of the patient. Patients below the age of 10 years were excluded from the study. The treatment strategy was planned ranging from conservative treatment to emergency laparotomy after resuscitation and rehydration of the patient. Details of individual patients were recorded on a pro forma sheet and data analyzed statistically on SPSS version 14.


A total of 229 patients with acute intestinal obstruction were admitted and treated. The mean age of the study population was 43.08 ± 13.07 years. Postoperative adhesions accounted for 41% (n = 95) of the total cases, followed by abdominal tuberculosis (25%, n = 58), obstructed/ strangulated hernias of different types (18%, n = 42). There was an obvious change in the pattern of etiology of acute intestinal obstruction as the common causes were postoperative adhesions and abdominal tuberculosis instead of obstructed inguinal hernias.


An increase in the adhesive obstruction and a concomitant decrease in the incidence of obstructed hernias indicate a changing trend towards early operation before it gets complicated. Abdominal tuberculosis is emerging as another common cause of acute bowel obstruction.

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