Bowel Obstructions

Stopping Bowel Obstructions Naturally

The images above show the ability of the Clear Passage®️ Approach to clear bowel obstructions without surgery. To obtain these images, the patient swallowed a radio-opaque dye (shown in white) that reveals the inside of her intestines. Noting the severe narrowing in the ‘Before’ images, her physician scheduled her for emergency surgery to remove and repair two obstructions in her intestine.

Importance of Stopping Repeat Bowel Obstructions

Small bowel obstructions (SBO) are debilitating, painful, life-threatening events. A review of medical literature explains the serious and complex problems bowel obstructions create for physicians and their patients.

Bowel repair is the 2nd most common Emergency Surgery in the USA (JAMA Surgery). That study shows SBO surgery has close to a 50% rate of serious complications. These include

  • the risk of intestinal bacteria leaking into the body during surgery, creating a severe internal infection that may require repeat surgery
  • the difficulty of separating powerful adhesions from delicate intestinal tissues
  • the risk of inadvertent enterotomy – the surgeon mistakenly cutting another organ or structure in the tightly bound, adhered environment of the abdomen.

Data from the National Institutes of Health shows that nearly one in five (18.1%) patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after bowel surgery. Another study noted that 44% of elderly patients died after emergency abdominal surgery (World Journal Emergency Surgery). In all events, SBO is a condition best avoided if possible.

Primary Cause of Bowel Obstruction

Despite the greatest education, training, skill and compassion of any surgeon, internal scars called adhesions form as the body’s first step in healing from surgery. Unfortunately, post-surgical adhesions are widely regarded as the primary cause of bowel obstruction. Thus, the surgery that may save your life is often the cause of subsequent blockages.

Stopping Repeat Obstructions Naturally

Surgeons have searched for decades for a material they can insert to prevent adhesions. To date, no mesh, gel or other implanted device has been the panacea that has been shown to prevent post-surgical adhesions and repeat SBO. Now an all-natural bodywork is showing great promise for people who suffer with recurring bowel obstructions.

In a series of ground-breaking studies, a hands-on physical therapy designed to reduce or eliminate adhesions (Clear Passage® Approach) has been shown to decrease recurring total SBO events by 15 times the norm – with just five days of therapy. Using no drugs and no surgery, this treatment has been shown to be safe and highly effective at reducing or eliminating adhesions and bowel obstructions.

Major Studies Show the Effectiveness of this Non-Surgical Therapy

Comparing Clear Passage® to other therapies

It is important to understand the difference between Clear Passage® and other types of bodywork. In several published studies housed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine, Clear Passage® is the only hands-on therapy shown to decrease adhesions in the bowel.

Myofascial release (MFR) can be a wonderful for treating muscles (myo) and fascia (fascial), but no study exists showing its use treating intestinal conditions. Despite its name, not a single study shows visceral manipulation (VM) can treat the bowel or any organ in humans. The differences are examined more fully on our FAQ page.

Treating Recurring Bowel Obstructions:

The images above show the ability of the Clear Passage®️ Approach to clear bowel obstructions without surgery. To obtain these images, the patient swallowed a radio-opaque dye (shown in white) that reveals the inside of her intestines. Noting the severe narrowing in the ‘Before’ images, her physician scheduled her for emergency surgery to remove and repair two obstructions in her intestine.

On the left, we see “BEFORE” images of

  • A 3-inch long ‘string stricture’ as narrow as a coffee straw in the lower bowel, and
  • An ‘hourglass obstruction’ severely restricting the upper bowel.

The patient requested Clear Passage therapy instead of surgery. Images AFTER Clear Passage’s hands-on treatment (only) show that the therapy cleared both obstructions – without surgery. The physician canceled the surgery as it was “no longer necessary.”

World Journal of Gastroenterology – 2018

A large (Phase 2) controlled study authored by physicians from Stanford and Washington University medical schools examined repeat obstructions for patients who received the therapy vs. those who did not. Twenty hours of Clear Passage® therapy (generally given over five days) decreased repeat bowel obstructions by several times the norm for patients who received the treatment vs. those who did not receive therapy. Results are shown below.

Early pilot studies

Prior to publication of the above pioneering studies, we conducted six separate pilot studies, all peer-reviewed, published in major journals and available by clicking here. These early studies alerted us to the effectiveness of this therapy when they brought the results shown below.

90%[I] 67%[II] 35%[III] 67%[IV] 83%[V]
Preventing Surgery Pain Reduction Improved Diet Improved  Quality of Life Decreased Medications

What therapy is like

Treatment generally consists of 20 hours of hands-on therapy designed to decrease the adhesions in your intestines and nearby areas. Treatment is often delivered in 2-hour sessions, each morning and afternoon for five days. The patient is free to relax in their hotel or explore the local area between sessions.

Sometimes likened to a deep, site-specific massage, the therapy is specific to the adhesions that are unique to you – bonds that have formed over years, or decades. Calling the therapy a ‘massage’ is a bit like calling the space shuttle a ‘plane.’ During therapy, we use over 200 manual techniques we have developed over the years to clear the adhesions that are causing the blockage. During your sessions, we will instruct you in self-treatment techniques to further clear your intestines of adhesions and to help you to avoid future obstructions.

Complete our online Request Consultation form to receive a free phone consultation with an expert therapist and learn more.

Causes and Frequencies of Bowel Obstructions

A bowel obstruction often occurs due to adhesions (internal scars) that form in the small intestines (small bowel) and sometimes in the large intestines (colon). Adhesions form as the first step in healing from a surgery, infection, inflammation or trauma. Adhesions are a primary cause of obstruction, or blockage in the bowel. Regardless of where they form, adhesions join structures with strong glue-like bonds that prevent them from functioning properly.

Adhesions may form as curtains or ropes within or between the loops of the bowel, completely blocking the passage designed to transport food. When these adhesions prevent the body from processing food, a bowel obstruction can quickly become a life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of a Bowel Obstruction

The first indication of a bowel obstruction is often severe pain, nausea or vomiting accompanied by difficulty or inability to pass gas or stool. Blocked from its normal clear passage, food becomes backed up. The intestines stop functioning, preventing the patient from eating or eliminating waste.

A more comprehensive list of bowel obstruction symptoms include:

  • No bowel sounds
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps that come and go
  • Diarrhea (if bowel is partially blocked)
  • Swelling or bloating of the stomach (distention)
  • Pain or tenderness around or just below the belly button
  • Constipation and the inability to pass gas (sign of complete blockage)

If you experience severe abdominal pain or other bowel obstruction symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Bowel Obstruction (Clear Passage®️ Approach)

Clear Passage®️ has over three decades of experience decreasing the adhesions that cause obstructions, without surgery. We have published studies in peer-reviewed U.S. and international medical journals.

The Clear Passage® Approach is a very site-specific manual therapy, the result of decades of study and investigation by Clear Passage®️ staff. Like peeling apart the run in a three-dimensional sweater, this non-surgical technique focuses on reducing or eliminating adhesions, cross-link by cross-link (bond by bond).

This therapy has been credited with saving lives and returning normal lifestyles to many people, including those who suffer from recurring bowel obstructions. Clear Passage®️ therapists have had many successes decreasing or eliminating the adhesions that block the intestines. They have broken the repetitive “adhesion-obstruction-surgery” cycle that many of their patients describe as their life before Clear Passage®️.

Other Medical Treatments (Drugs, Surgery)

Once hospitalized with a bowel obstruction, the patient will generally have a nasogastric (NG) tube passed through the nose and into the stomach to relieve pressure. Physicians then place a PICC line into a vein to draw blood, or to give the patient nutrition, pain medications, etc. Then, the medical team will wait to see if the obstruction clears on its own.

If the obstruction does not clear, patients generally have to undergo surgery as the primary method to clear small bowel obstructions. While this surgery can save the lives of those in immediate danger, obstructions tend to recur for many patients as post-surgical adhesions form in the months or years after surgery. Thus, many patients find themselves in a repeating cycle of “adhesions-obstruction-surgery-adhesions,” with no end in sight.

Surgical repair of the bowel generally involves cutting deeply into the body under general anesthesia to access the intestines. The physician often cuts through the bowel to remove the obstructed area. Finally, he reattaches the (now shortened) bowel ends.

While surgical lysis of bowel adhesions can be effective and save lives, it has some major drawbacks:

  • It carries the risks associated with general anesthesia.
  • It carries the risk of infection deep within the body (peritonitis) from spillage of bowel contents into the abdomen. A single drop of bowel contents escaping into the body cavity can cause an infection in the body that requires another surgery, and/or significant quantities of antibiotics to clear. Perhaps for this reason, about 1 in 5 (18%) of bowel resection patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after their surgery (per U.S. Dept. of Health). 
  • Sometimes, the second surgical wound is left open, to allow the body to heal from the inside. This can cause a considerable amount of internal scarring (adhesions).
  • Despite the best skills of the finest surgeon, the body often creates more adhesions as it heals from the very surgery designed to remove them.

A study in Digestive Surgery found that more than 90% of patients develop adhesions after open abdominal surgery and 55% to 100% of women develop adhesions following pelvic surgery. (Liakakos et al., 2001) Another study reported that 35% of all open abdominal or pelvic surgery patients were readmitted to the hospital more than twice to treat post-surgical adhesions during the 10 years after their original surgery. (Ellis et al., 1999) Thus, abdominal surgery has been identified as a major cause of adhesion formation, leaving many patients trapped in the “surgery-adhesions-surgery” cycle described earlier.

Published Studies and Success Rates – Clear Passage®️ Physical Therapy

To view a complete list of published success rates treating Bowel Obstructions with Clear Passage®️, please visit our Bowel Obstruction Success Rates page

Decreasing Adhesions: Adhesions after surgery are the primary cause of bowel obstructions. The Clear Passage® Approach (CP) has been shown in several peer-reviewed medical journals to reduce adhesions, decrease pain and improve soft tissue mobility without the risks of surgery or drugs.

A landmark controlled study published in the (World Journal of Gastroenterology) (2018) was co-authored by surgeons from Stanford and Washington University medical schools. The study compared the rate of repeat small bowel obstructions (SBO) and quality of life among patients who received CP therapy vs. those who did not receive the therapy. During a three-year period, 103 patients were treated with CP. 90-day outcomes were compared to 136 patients who received no therapy – the usual standard of care. Click here to view of some of the most pertinent results.

After 90 days, 15% of patients who did not receive the therapy had repeat total SBO; only 1% of the CP treated patients had SBO. In addition, the non-treated group underwent roughly three times more repeat surgeries than those who received CP.

Domains of diet, pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life and pain severity improved significantly (p<0.0001) for all CP treated patients. Statistical analysis showed a significant increase after CP therapy for all six measures of trunk mobility: flexion, extension, L&R sidebending, L&R rotation. (multiplicity adjusted p-values<0.05).

Earlier studies (Wurn et al., 2004b; Wurn et al., 2008; Rice et al., 2013b; Wurn et al., 2011; Rice et al., 2015b)  indicate that the results of our therapy are safe, and long-lasting. (Rice & King, 2015; Rice et al., 2014)

In addition, published studies and citations have shown our ability to open adhered structures as tiny as fallopian tubes (Wurn et al., 2006, Wurn et al., 2008), organs that are much smaller and even less accessible than the intestine (bowel).

Clear Passage®️ therapists are experts at reducing adhesions and preventing bowel obstruction, without surgery.

Treating Recurring Bowel Obstructions:

No matter how skilled the surgeon, most pelvic and abdominal surgeries cause new adhesions as the body heals from the surgery, according to medical studies. (Liakakos et al., 2001)

Publications in medical journals and textbooks in 2015 and 2016 give good measures of our success in this area. Some of those are shown below.

Treating Small Bowel Obstruction with a Manual Physical Therapy: a Prospective Efficacy Study was published to test the safety and efficacy of our work as an abstract in the journal Gastroenterology. We presented this to 15,000 U.S. and international gastroenterologists and staff at the annual Digestive Disease Week meeting in Washington, D.C. in May of 2015. Scientists designed this study as an initial test of the safety and efficacy of the Clear Passage® Approach on a group of people with recurring small bowel obstructions (n=27). The full study was published the following year in BioMed Research International (2016). The abstract and the full study are accessible via PubMed (the National Institute of Health’s search engine), or by clicking the links above.

Adhesions commonly form after surgery, infection or inflammation. Post-surgical adhesions are the primary cause of small bowel obstruction (SBO) – a life-threatening condition that prevents food from passing through the digestive tract.

Results: The therapy was found safe. Effectiveness was shown on all six measurable domains for these patients with significant improvements in pain severity, overall pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and overall quality of life. The study noted improved diet and decreased medication requirements. Significant improvements were noted in all six measures of trunk range of motion (flexion/extension, left/right side bending, left/right rotation), likely due to the decrease of adhesive bonds within treated subjects’ abdomen and pelvis. These increases all added to the patients’ quality of life, the authors noted. 

Earlier Published Case Studies:

A 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine demonstrated the effectiveness of the Clear Passage®️ Approach in treating bowel obstructions. Study participants with complex surgical histories and adhesions reported no symptoms after receiving the hands-on therapy. Each reported lasting pain relief and avoidance of further SBOs after therapy. “Before and after” X-rays in one patient showed obstructions and strictures cleared after therapy. Another participant was able to cancel a scheduled bowel surgery after attending therapy. (Rice et al., 2013b)

No matter how skilled the surgeon, most pelvic and abdominal surgeries cause new adhesions as the body heals from the surgery, according to medical studies. (Liakakos et al., 2001)
Like pulling apart the run in a sweater, we use our hands to peel apart the tiny but powerful strands that are the building-blocks of adhesions.

A study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine in 2013 showed total reversal of bowel obstruction in a terminally-ill patient. Before therapy, the patient lived with recurring SBOs, repeat surgeries, pain and dysfunction. She received nutrition intravenously, via PICC lines. After receiving the non-surgical therapy, she was able to have the PICC line removed because she could eat a normal diet, greatly increasing her quality of life. (Rice et al., 2013a)

To date, we have successfully cleared obstructed bowels in scores of patients. In a paper presented to an international conference of gastroenterologists and staff (Rice et al., 2015b), CPA was shown to improve 5 of 7 key components of quality of life for patients who suffer recurring bowel obstructions. In addition to cancelling planned surgeries, therapy has allowed our bowel obstruction patients to manage their own symptoms without fear of any additional bowel obstructions.


To read previous patient success stories, please visit our testimonial page.

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Diet Guide to Avoid Bowel Obstructions
How Adhesions Cause Obstructions
Patient Stories of Overcoming Them

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