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intestine, muscular hoselike portion of the gastrointestinal tract extending from the lower end of the stomach (pylorus) to the anal opening. In humans this fairly narrow (about 1 in./2.5 cm) tubelike structure winds compactly back and forth within the abdominal cavity for about 23 ft (7 m), and is known as the small intestine. It is not only an organ of digestion (for that part of the process not completed by the stomach) but is the chief organ of absorption. By contraction of its muscular walls (peristalsis) the food mass is propelled onward and, as it is carried along, it is subject to the digestive action of the secretions of the intestinal lining as well as to that of bile and pancreatic juice which enter the upper intestine (duodenum) from ducts leading from the liver and pancreas. Innumerable minute projections (villi) in the intestinal mucous lining absorb the altered food for distribution by the blood and lymphatic systems to the rest of the body. Food continues to pass into the middle (jejunum) and end (ileum) of the small intestines.

The small intestine joins the large intestine, or colon, at the cecum in the right lower abdominal cavity. Here, also, is the appendix, a blind pouch projecting from the cecum. The large intestine is wider in diameter. Its direction as it leaves the cecum is upward (ascending colon), across the abdominal cavity (transverse colon) beneath the stomach, and then downward (descending colon) on the left side of the abdominal cavity, making a sharp turn in the left lower portion (sigmoid) to merge with the rectum. In all, the large intestine is about 5 ft (1.5 m) long. Bacteria, the indigestible residue of food, and mucus form the bulk of matter in the large intestine. The water content of the bulk is absorbed through the walls of the large intestine, and the solid matter is excreted through the rectum.

See digestive system.

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The intestine.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. an intestine, esp the large intestine in man
2. innards; entrails
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The study of Abd-El Maeboud et al.22 with 200 women after cesarean delivery under general anesthesia in Egypt revealed that the group that chewed gum experienced bowel sounds 10.9 hours after surgery and the control group 15.6 hours after surgery.
On POD2, the patient started to have more abdominal distension despite passing stool, and bowel sounds become sluggish then nonaudible.
Postoperative follow-up was done in keeping patients NPO and given fluids till the return of bowel sounds. Antibiotic was given 5 days in every case and removal of stitches after 7 - 10 days.
Bowel sounds were normal and there were no signs of reflux or intestinal obstruction.
Abdominal examination revealed a mildly distended abdomen, with pain all over but mostly in the epigastric and umbilical areas (there was some pain at the surgical site), no rigidity, no rebound tenderness and sluggish bowel sounds. Rectal examination showed normal stool.
Classic signs of peritonitis include a rigid abdomen, distension, muscle guarding and absent or hypoactive bowel sounds. In the deteriorating patient fever, tachycardia and hypotension mark sepsis and need for urgent intervention.
Historically, professionals of gynecology and obstetrics waited until gut function returns allowing oral or entered feeding, characterized by symptoms such as bowel sounds, first flatus or stool, and feeling of hunger (5).
With holes and gaps in the medical record--not describing bowel sounds, checking tube patency or assessing resident tolerance to feedings--facility staff had not shown that daily skilled services were provided by a licensed nurse.
This article describes the impact of music auditory training (MAT) for nursing students in an accelerated master's entry program on their competence in detecting heart, lung, and bowel sounds. During the first semester, a two-hour MAT session with focused attention on pitch, timbre, rhythm, and masking was held for the intervention group; a control group received traditional instruction only.
Bowel sounds were exaggerated in 88 (45.4%) patients and appeared sluggish in 11 (6.4%) patients, but unexpectedly 75 (42.9%) patients had normal sounds.
The ObGyn's examination revealed minimal abdominal distension, sluggish bowel sounds, and some guarding, with no rebound tenderness or acute distress.