A stricture is a narrowing of the colon that may partially block the passage of stool. Sometimes, the stricture causes complete obstruction or blockage of the bowel. Strictures form because of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. The ongoing inflammation and healing create scar tissue that narrows the intestine. Diverticulitis also creates a bulging on the intestinal wall, leading to a blockage.
Besides inflammatory bowel diseases, other possible causes include:
- Hernia (protruding colon tissue)
- Bacterial infection in the stomach
- Radiation therapy
- Reduced blood flow
Symptoms range from mild to obvious. Since the colon can no longer effectively push the digested waste through the rectum to be eliminated, the blockage makes it difficult to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramping, pain, bloating
- Loss of appetite
To diagnose diverticular disease, our specialists begin with a medical history followed by a physical exam to check for abdominal tenderness. A blood test may be performed to look for signs of infection. However, an abdominal CT Scan is the most precise tool for diagnosing diverticular disease. A CT scan provides cross-sectional, two-, and three-dimensional images of structures in the gastrointestinal tract which helps identify any abnormalities in the colon and area around it.
Lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery are the methods of treating a stricture. There are two types of strictures. An inflammatory stricture results from swelling in the digestive tract which can be treated with medication or surgery. A fibrotic stricture occurs when scar tissue builds up in the bowel from chronic inflammation, and it requires surgery.
- Lifestyle changes – Low-fiber or low-residue die to reduce number and size of bowel movements.
- Medication – Anti-TNF treatment to ease inflammation.
- Surgery – Strictureplasty to widen the narrow part of the intestine or small bowel resection to remove damaged portion of intestine and join healthy sections together.