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Obstipation develops when you become so constipated you cannot have a bowel movement. You may feel like you need to have a bowel movement. You may have abdominal or rectal pain. You may also have bloating, nausea, or vomiting.



  • Fiber supplements help decrease constipation by adding water and bulk to your bowel movement.
  • Laxatives increase the amount of water your bowel movement absorbs and makes it softer.
  • Lubricants make your bowel movement easier to pass.
  • Stimulants cause the muscles in your intestines to move your bowel movement along.


  • A blood test is used to find signs of infection, and to check your thyroid and kidney function.
  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your intestines on a monitor. The pictures may show the location and cause of your impaction.
  • An x-ray or CT may be used to take pictures of your intestines. The pictures may show the location and cause of your impaction. You may be given a dye to help healthcare providers see your intestines better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • A barium enema is used to help your colon show up better on the x-ray. A tube is put into your anus, and a liquid called barium is put through the tube. Then x-rays are taken.
  • A colonoscopy may be needed so healthcare providers can see if you have tissue damage inside your intestines. A long, thin tube with a tiny camera on the end is put into your rectum. A small tissue sample may be taken from your bowel and sent to a lab for tests.
  • A bowel function test is used to check for muscle tone and nerve sensitivity of your intestines and anus.


  • Manual removal is a procedure to take out your impacted bowel movement. Your healthcare provider will use a gloved hand to remove the impaction. He or she will use lubricant to make the removal easier.
  • Surgery may rarely be needed to remove your impaction or to repair damage caused by your obstipation.


Your bowel function may return slowly, and you may develop another impaction. You may get sores or tears in your colon that could cause infection. Your colon could become twisted or permanently enlarged. Part of your bowels could stop working and need to be removed. If not treated, obstipation can become life-threatening.


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.

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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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