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J Am Coll Surg. 1994 Jun;178(6):617-20.

The gynecologic contribution to intestinal obstruction in females.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sloane Hospital for Women, New York, New York 10032.


This study was done to identify the cause of intestinal obstruction with particular emphasis on the gynecologic and perioperative related causes. All medical records from females with the discharge diagnosis "intestinal obstruction" from 1988 to 1991 at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center were requested. The patient series consisted of the first 100 completed charts received. Forty-eight percent of those patients with intestinal obstruction had experienced a previous gynecologic or obstetric event that could account for the obstruction. Primarily, the gynecologist managed more than 20 percent of all female patients with intestinal obstruction. The most common causative factors contributing to intestinal obstruction were postoperative adhesions (59 percent) and tumor (17 percent). Fifty-six percent of the patients with intestinal obstruction associated with postoperative adhesions had a history of previous gynecologic and obstetric operation. Hysterectomy was the most common previously performed operation. In this series, cesarean section was less likely and myomectomy was more likely to cause subsequent intestinal obstruction than expected. Of 59 female patients with postoperative adhesions associated with intestinal obstruction, 31 had the original operative reports available for analysis. Eleven of these patients were taken to the operating room for management of the obstruction. In the nine patients who had surgical peritoneal closure in the original operation, the adhesions causing the obstruction were always to the site of reperitonealization. In the two patients in whom the peritoneum was left open, the adhesions causing obstruction were remote from the site of spontaneous reperitonealization. In an unselected patient series of intestinal obstruction, a history of previous gynecologic pathology is a significant factor contributing to the total number of instances of intestinal obstruction in females. Also, surgical peritoneal closure may result in an increase in the incidence of intestinal obstruction.

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