Nclex Review: Lower GI Problems - Intestinal Obstruction

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A nurse is assessing a client who has been admitted with a diagnosis of an obstruction in the small intestine. The nurse should assess the client for? Select all that apply.
1. Projectile vomiting.
2. Significant abdominal distention.
3. Copious diarrhea.
4. Rapid onset of dehydration.
5. Increased bowel sounds.

1, 4, 5.
Signs and symptoms of intestinal obstructions in the small intestine may include projectile vomiting and rapidly developing dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The client will also have increased bowel sounds, usually high-pitched and tinkling. The client would not normally have diarrhea and would have minimal abdominal distention. Pain is intermittent, being relieved by vomiting. Intestinal obstructions in the large intestine usually evolve slowly, produce persistent pain, and vomiting is less common. Clients with a large-intestine obstruction may develop obstipation and significant abdominal distention.

A client is admitted with a bowel obstruction. The client has nausea, vomiting, and crampy abdominal pain. The physician has written orders for the client to be up ad lib, to have narcotics for pain, to have a nasogastric tube inserted if needed, and for I.V. Ringer's Lactate and hyperalimentation fluids. The nurse should do the following in order of priority from first to last:
1. Assist with ambulation to promote peristalsis
2. Administer Ringer's Lactate
3. Insert a nasogastric tube.
4. Start and infusion of hyperalimentation fluids.

The nurse should first help the client ambulate to try to induce peristalsis; this may be effective and require the least amount of invasive procedures. I.V. fluid therapy can be done to correct fluid and electrolyte imbalances (sodium and potassium), and normal saline or Ringer's Lactate to correct interstitial fluid deficit. Nasogastric (NG) decompression of G.I. tract to reduce gastric secretions and nasointestinal tubes may also be used. Hyperalimentation can be used to correct protein deficiency from chronic obstruction, paralytic ileus, or infection.

The physician orders intestinal decompression with a Cantor tube for a client with an intestinal obstruction. In order to determine effectiveness of intestinal decompression the nurse should evaluate the client to determine if:
1. Fluid and gas have been removed from the intestine.
2. The client has had a bowel movement.
3. The client's urinary output is adequate.
4. The client can sit up without pain.

Intestinal decompression is accomplished with a Cantor, Harris, or Miller-Abbott tube. These 6- to 10-foot tubes are passed into the small intestine to the obstruction. They remove accumulated fluid and gas, relieving the pressure. The client will not have an adequate bowel movement until the obstruction is removed. The pressure from the distended intestine should not obstruct urinary output. While the client may be able to more easily sit up, and the pain caused by the intestinal pressure will be less, these are not the primary indicators for successful intestinal decompression.

After insertion of a nasoenteric tube, the nurse should place the client in which position?
1. Supine.
2. Right side-lying.
3. Semi-Fowler's.
4. Upright in a bedside chair.

The client is placed in a right side-lying position to facilitate movement of the mercury-weighted tube through the pyloric sphincter. After the tube is in the intestine, the client is turned from side to side or encouraged to ambulate to facilitate tube movement through the intestinal loops. Placing the client in the supine or semi-Fowler's position, or having the client sitting out of bed in a chair will not facilitate tube progression.

Which of the following statements about nasoenteric tubes is correct?
1. The tube cannot be attached to suction.
2. The tube contains a soft rubber bag filled with mercury. 3. The tube is taped securely to the client's cheek after insertion.
4. The tube can have its placement determined only by auscultation.

A nasoenteric tube has a small balloon at its tip that is weighted with mercury. The weight of the mercury helps advance the tube by gravity through the intestine. Nasoenteric tubes are attached to suction. A nasoenteric tube is not taped in position until it has reached the obstruction. Because the tube has a radiopaque strip, its progress through the intestinal tract can be followed by fluoroscopy.

The client with an intestinal obstruction continues to have acute pain even though the nasoenteric tube is patent and draining. Which action by the nurse would be most appropriate?
1. Reassure the client that the nasoenteric tube is functioning.
2. Assess the client for a rigid abdomen.
3. Administer an opioid as ordered.
4. Reposition the client on the left side.

The client's pain may be indicative of peritonitis, and the nurse should assess for signs and symptoms, such as a rigid abdomen, elevated temperature, and increasing pain. Reassuring the client is important, but accurate assessment of the client is essential. The full assessment should occur before pain relief measures are employed. Repositioning the client to the left side will not resolve the pain.

Before abdominal surgery for an intestinal obstruction, the nurse monitors the client's urine output and finds that the total output for the past 2 hours was 35 mL. The nurse then assesses the client's total intake and output over the last 24 hours and notes that he had 2,000 mL of I.V. fluid for intake, 500 mL of drainage from the nasogastric tube, and 700 mL of urine for a total output of 1,200 mL. This would indicate which of the following?
1. Decreased renal function.
2. Inadequate pain relief.
3. Extension of the obstruction.
4. Inadequate fluid replacement.

Considering that there is usually 1 L of insensible fluid loss, this client's output exceeds his intake (intake, 2,000 mL; output, 2,200 mL), indicating deficient fluid volume. The kidneys are concentrating urine in response to low circulating volume, as evidenced by a urine output of less than 30 mL/ hour. This indicates that increased fluid replacement is needed. Decreasing urine output can be a sign of decreased renal function, but the data provided suggest that the client is dehydrated. Pain does not affect urine output. There are no data to suggest that the obstruction has worsened.

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