A serious side effect for patients treated with radiation for pelvic and abdominal malignancies where blockages occur preventing food or liquid from passing through the small intestine.
Radiation therapy can induce fibrosis of the bowel wall which then leads to adhesions that can limit bowel mobility and obstruct flow through the gut. This can then lead to bowel obstruction and require surgical intervention.r
The reported incidence of radiation induced small bowel obstruction has been between 5 and 13.9% of patients treated for rectal cancer.rr For patients treated for cervical cancer the incidence rate is between 0.8 and 4%.r
Radiation induced small bowel obstruction can occur weeks or months post radiation therapy.
Risk factors include the total dose of radiation (>50 Gy), volume irradiated, fractionation schedule, concurrent chemotherapy, and timing (preoperative or postoperative) of radiotherapy.rr