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Small bowel obstruction in pregnancy

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Intestinal obstruction in pregnancy is rare. Symptoms are often unspecific and a high level of suspicion is essential for early diagnosis. Fetal and maternal mortality rates are higher during pregnancy due to delay in diagnosis.


A 31-year-old primigravida with a history of abdominal surgery was admitted because of worsening abdominal pain, abdominal distension and elevated pancreatic enzymes. Ultrasound showed dilated small bowel loops. Explorative laparotomy revealed a small bowel obstruction with partial bowel necrosis caused by a single adhesion. A jejuno-jejunostomy was performed. Five days later, she developed peritonitis. A secondary laparotomy and caesarean section were done.


In spite of timely diagnosis and prompt surgical intervention, our case was still complicated by peritonitis and early delivery. This underlines the necessity of immediate clinical suspicion. Small bowel obstruction should be considered in differential diagnosis of pregnant patients with a history of abdominal surgery.

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Correspondence to Serban-Dan Costa.

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Redlich, A., Rickes, S., Costa, SD. et al. Small bowel obstruction in pregnancy. Arch Gynecol Obstet 275, 381–383 (2007).

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