The most common causes of intestinal obstruction in adults are:
- Intestinal adhesions â bands of fibrous tissue in the abdominal cavity that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Colon cancer
In children, the most common cause of intestinal obstruction is telescoping of the intestine (intussusception).
Other possible causes of intestinal obstruction include:
- Hernias â portions of intestine that protrude into another part of your body
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease
- Diverticulitis â a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in the digestive tract become inflamed or infected
- Twisting of the colon (volvulus)
- Impacted feces
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction (paralytic ileus) can cause signs and symptoms of intestinal obstruction, but doesn't involve a physical blockage. In paralytic ileus, muscle or nerve problems disrupt the normal coordinated muscle contractions of the intestines, slowing or stopping the movement of food and fluid through the digestive system.
Paralytic ileus can affect any part of the intestine. Causes can include:
- Abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Certain medications that affect muscles and nerves, including tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptylineÂ and imipramine (Tofranil), and opioid pain medications, such as those containing hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin)
- Muscle and nerve disorders, such as Parkinson's disease