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Colon Stricture

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is a colon stricture?

A colon stricture is the narrowing of the large intestine. A stricture slows or prevents waste from passing through your large intestine. Colon strictures can become life-threatening if they are not treated.

What causes colon strictures?

  • Chronic inflammation and scars from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn disease
  • Your colon looping around itself (volvulus)
  • Adhesions in your abdomen
  • Hernias
  • Tumors inside or outside of your colon

What are the symptoms of colon strictures?

You may not have any symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Pain or cramps in your abdomen
  • Bloated or distended abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting

How are colon strictures diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may see a stricture on an abdominal x-ray or CT scan.

How are colon strictures treated?

  • Balloon dilation may be done. A scope with a light and camera is placed into your colon. A balloon is placed over a guidewire and inflated in the narrow area. Healthcare providers inflate the balloon several times for short periods. The inflated balloon pushes against the narrow wall and opens it.
  • A stent may need to be placed to open the stricture. A stent is a metal coil. The stent will be left in place to keep the stricture open.
  • Surgery may be needed if balloon dilation does not work. It may also be needed if your healthcare provider is not able to reach the stricture with a scope. There are 2 types of surgery:
    • A resection is used to remove the part of the intestine that has the stricture. Then, the remaining 2 ends or 2 sides are sewn together.
    • A stricturoplasty may be needed if you have had a large part of your intestine removed. It may also be needed if there many areas with strictures in your intestine.

How can I prevent colon strictures?

You may not be able to prevent strictures if you have certain chronic conditions, such as Crohn disease. The following may help to prevent colon strictures:

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Choose foods that are low in fat. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your colon stricture. Smoking also increases your risk for colorectal cancer. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Do not lift heavy items. This will help prevent hernias that can cause part of your intestine to go through your abdominal wall.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea and vomiting, and severe, worsening abdominal pain.
  • You have severe abdominal swelling.
  • You cannot have a bowel movement or pass gas.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have abdominal cramps that come and go.
  • You have diarrhea but feel like your bowels are still full.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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