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Article
October 1969

Obstruction of the Small Intestine

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles
From the Department of Surgery, University of California Medical Center, Los Angeles.

Arch Surg. 1969;99(4):424-426. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1969.01340160004002
Abstract

Obstruction of the small intestine comprises about 20% of all acute surgical admissions and is one of the most common surgical emergencies. Approximately 9,000 people die annually in the United States of bowel obstruction.9 In the past four decades the mortality has progressively and markedly fallen. In the early part of the century mortalities of 30% to 50% were not uncommon.1-3 More recent reports indicate that the rate has fallen to 15% and lower.4-6

In the series under consideration a mortality of 4.6% was found. Factors responsible for this decrease in the mortality include better understanding of fluid and electrolyte disorders and their treatment; intelligent use of nasogastric and intestinal intubation; and the use of antibiotics. The importance of early diagnosis and treatment has been stressed for many years and all series show a marked increase in mortality associated with delay in treatment and particularly with the

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