Fact checkedEvidence Based

Evidence Based

This article is objectively based on relevant scientific literature, written by experienced medical writers, and fact-checked by a team of degreed medical experts.

Our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and licensed medical professionals seek to remain objective and unbiased while preserving the integrity of any scientific debate.

The articles contain evidence-based references from approved scientific sites. The numbers* in parentheses (*1,2,3) will take you to clickable links to our reputable sources.

Colon Stricture: Causes, Treatments & How To Diagnose It In 2024

Mitchelle Morgan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

colon stricture
Colon strictures have numerous treatment options with early detection. Photo: Ba Le Ho

Our digestive tract is a mucous tubing that aids digestion and our bodies’ nutrition. To keep it at its best, we should eat plenty of probiotics, fiber and care for it in case of any problem. Today we’ll learn about colon stricture, meaning the narrowing of the large intestine. This condition is also called colon stenosis.

Such bottlenecks threaten your health, and you should get treatment upon detection of intestinal strictures. Still, what is a colon stricture, what causes it, how would you know you have one, and how do you treat it? This article will answer all these questions.

What Is A Colon Stricture?

A colon stricture occurs when part of the large intestines narrows. Some of the contributing factors are chronic inflammation, the development of scar tissue, or fibrotic changes. Additionally, it has been connected to types of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This constriction may cause intestinal blockage and limit the movement of fecal matter through the colon. This results in symptoms like cramping, bowel changes, and abdominal pain. Surgical methods or endoscopic balloon dilation may be used for an immediate diagnosis and appropriate treatments.

Colon Stricture Symptoms

A narrow colon doesn’t allow food to flow as it should. Hence, it gets trapped within your colon. These fibrotic strictures cause increased pressure on that segment which causes a painful sensation. Having a colonic stricture is a painful experience, and here are some of the intestinal stricture symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Changes in bowel movements: constipation or diarrhea.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Difficulty passing gas.
  • Difficulty passing stool.

Featured Partner

colon broom fpo

Low-Calorie

Non-GMO

Vegan-friendly

Get Blown Away By Expert-Crafted Formula

Learn More About Colon Broom – one of the quality supplements promoting regular bowel movements, alleviates bloating, and supports healthy cholesterol levels.

How To Diagnose Colon Stricture

Regarding conditions such as colon strictures, waiting until the last minute could become life-threatening. So much so, here are the major steps doctors take if they realize that you have all of the above symptoms:

Patient History And Medical Evaluation

When patients present with the above symptoms, healthcare providers run thorough medical evaluations for diagnosis. Firstly, they start by evaluating detailed patient history and carrying out a physical examination to eliminate contributing factors. These examinations are essential to identify the exact risk factor since intestinal strictures may occur due to several reasons.

One contributing factor they will evaluate is the history of inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Lifestyle and current or previous infections are other possible factors.

Imaging Evaluations

After the physical exams, imaging is the next step.

Diagnostic imaging[1] helps doctors confirm the presence of intestinal strictures. Imaging techniques like computed tomography and plain radiographs allow medical professionals to see the large intestine passage.

If there is a narrowing, the respective scans will show and identify the narrowed areas and highlight potential dangers. These imaging techniques also help doctors differentiate the cause of the colonic stricture, such as intestinal looping or tumors.

Biopsy And Laboratory Tests

After the scans have shown that your gastrointestinal, i.e., GI tract, is truly narrower, doctors do more confirmatory tests. A colonoscopy[2] is one of those. Here, doctors perform a colonoscopy to extract a few cells of the affected area to examine it further.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor may take tissue samples or biopsies to assess the nature of the stricture. This test helps rule out other conditions, including colon cancer.[3] Laboratory tests, such as blood work, can also aid in evaluating inflammation levels and ruling out other gastrointestinal disorders.

Causes Of Colon Stricture

Our digestive health depends on a few fundamental components: diet and lifestyle. You heal and nourish the body when you eat a healthy meal full of probiotic foods, fiber, nutrients, and digestive enzymes. A colon stricture cannot just happen; it has to have a cause. And now that you know what intestinal strictures are in the colon, here are some causes:

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Some inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease[4] and ulcerative colitis,[5] significantly contribute to colon inflammatory strictures.

The chronic inflammation that results leads to the accumulation of scar tissue and fibrosis, narrowing the colon. Over time, this narrowing can block the normal passage of stool, causing symptoms and complications associated with bowel strictures.

Chronic Inflammation

Besides IBD, other factors that induce chronic inflammation in the colon can lead to strictures. These are infections, autoimmune disorders,[6] untreated intestinal infections, and certain medications or toxins. Prolonged inflammation chips through the intestinal lining leading to scar tissue build-up, narrowing the colon.

Inflammation also results in altered absorption and metabolism[7] of nutrients, leading to potential nutrient deficiency from the malabsorption.

Intestinal Fibrosis

The condition of intestinal[8] fibrosis is the excessive accumulation of connective tissue in response to injury or inflammation in the large or small intestine. This accumulation results in the thickening of some intestinal segments. Fibrotic strictures narrow the intestinal tract, minimizing its ability to allow smooth stool passage. As fibrosis progresses, it can eventually lead to partial or complete blockage.

Complications From Diverticular Disease

Diverticular disease,[9] which involves the formation of small pouches called diverticula in the colon or small intestine, can lead to inflammation and scarring. This disease causes intestinal diverticular stricture when the small pouches become inflamed or infected. Their swelling leads to blockage of the intestinal canal and a loss of the ability to have a normal bowel movement.

Other Contributing Factors

Certain risk factors may also increase the likelihood[10] of developing colon strictures. The extra factors are personal or family history[11] of colon cancer, post-abdominal surgery complications,[12] smoking, hernias, intestinal looping, cancerous tumors, and untreated intestinal infections.

How To Treat Colon Stricture

How to heal intestinal stricture naturally depends on early detection of a bowel stricture. Early detection facilitates faster medication administration and remedies to halt the narrowing. If it’s a small colon stricture needing only diet changes, you may add gut-healing foods and even use digestive supplements

The cases that require special treatments may utilize some of the following techniques:

Endoscopic Balloon Dilation

Endoscopic balloon dilation[13] is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which doctors use a specialized endoscope with an inflatable balloon. The doctors insert this device into the colon and inflate the balloon to stretch and widen the narrowed stricture in the colon. This procedure improves bowel function and relieves symptoms.

Surgical Procedures

When you get severe strictures, you may require surgery. Surgical procedures[14] aim to remove the colon part or create a bypass. During the bypass procedure,[15] surgeons create a new alternative route for the stool to bypass the narrowed area. This helps restore normal bowel flow and alleviates obstruction.  

Putting a stent in is an infrequent option. Or removing a benign or cancerous tumor is another surgical option.

Managing Inflammation

Reducing disease inflammation caused by whatever source can help you manage colon strictures. This is especially important if yours is linked to inflammatory bowel diseases. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressants[16] to control inflammation and prevent further stricture development.

Collaborative Care

A diverse healthcare team, including gastroenterologists, surgeons, and other specialists, may work together to develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Even the Colitis Foundation may offer tips and recipes to help treat strictures.

Collaborating with a registered dietitian to learn what foods to eat is a wise idea, as you do not want to eat foods that will further block a bowel movement and lead to a more severe stricture. Sticking to soft, pureed foods low in fiber[17] and well-cooked meats and veggies are key to a healthy diet to treat strictures.

Regular Follow-Ups And Monitoring

Sometimes, even after initial treatment, new strictures may form on another part of the intestinal canal. For early detection, schedule follow-up appointments and monitoring sessions to help your doctors assess your gut health and the success of treatments.

These are the sessions where your caregiver may suggest diet modifications, consumption of superfoods, or other digestive health therapies.

Final Thought

Intestinal strictures are painful and have several contributing factors, like infection and diseases. Unfortunately, they can become fatal if you leave them untreated.

Luckily, there are numerous treatment options like medications or surgical interventions. The exact treatment technique may involve a collaborative force of healthcare providers to get you to excellent health. Still, even after the initial treatment, regular check-ups are advised.

Finally, since prevention is better than cure, regular screenings, a healthy diet, and moderate physical activity go a long way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are colon strictures normal?

Colon strictures are abnormal narrowing in the large intestine caused by inflammation and scar tissue build-up.

Do colon strictures need to be treated?

You must treat strictures. Left untreated, they can lead to complications like bowel obstruction, which may lead to death if the obstruction is complete.

Can you heal colon stricture?

While strictures cannot completely heal naturally, early intervention and appropriate treatment can effectively manage the condition and improve symptoms.

What foods should you avoid with a stricture?

It’s advisable to avoid foods that are difficult to digest[17] or may exacerbate symptoms. Such foods are high-fiber foods, seeds, nuts, and spicy foods.


+ 17 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Nelms, D.W. and Kann, B.R. (2021). Imaging Modalities for Evaluation of Intestinal Obstruction. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0041-1729737.
  2. Cain, B.T. and Huang, L.C. (2021). Benign Colonic Strictures. [online] 64(9), pp.1041–1044. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/dcr.0000000000002179.
  3. Triantafillidis, J.K., Constantine Vagianos and G. Malgarinos (2015). Colonoscopy in Colorectal Cancer Screening: Current Aspects. [online] 6(3), pp.237–250. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13193-015-0410-3.
  4. Xia, K., Gao, R., Wu, X., Yu, R., Wan, J., Wu, T., Wang, F., Yin, L., Li, Y. and Chen, C. (2022). Crohn’s Disease Complicated by Rare Types of Intestinal Obstruction: Two Case Reports. [online] 9. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2022.895202.
  5. Terracciano, F., Scalisi, G., Attino, V. and Biscaglia, G. (2014). A rare case of sigmoid colon obstruction in patient with ulcerative colitis: role of transabdominal ultrasound-guided biopsy. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40477-014-0105-6.
  6. Wen, J., Chen, W., Gao, L., Qiu, X. and Wei, J. (2022). Systemic lupus erythematosus simultaneously presenting with visceral muscle dysmotility syndrome and mechanical intestinal obstruction clinically relieved by surgery: a case report and literature review. [online] 22(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-022-02105-3.
  7. Montoro, M., Belloc, B. and Domínguez-Cajal, M. (2021). Small and Large Intestine (I): Malabsorption of Nutrients. [online] 13(4), pp.1254–1254. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13041254.
  8. Latella, G. and Rieder, F. (2017). Intestinal fibrosis. [online] 33(4), pp.239–245. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/mog.0000000000000363.
  9. Tursi, A., Scarpignato, C., Strate, L.L., Lanas, A., Kruis, W., Adi Lahat and Danese, S. (2020). Colonic diverticular disease. [online] 6(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41572-020-0153-5.
  10. Colon Stricture – What You Need to Know (2023). [online] Drugs.com. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/cg/colon-stricture.html.
  11. Henrikson, N.B., Webber, E.M., Katrina A.B. Goddard, Scrol, A., Piper, M., Williams, M.S., Zallen, D.T., Calonge, N., Ganiats, T.G., J.W, C., Zauber, A.G., Lansdorp-Vogelaar, I., Marjolein van Ballegooijen and Whitlock, E.P. (2015). Family history and the natural history of colorectal cancer: systematic review. [online] 17(9), pp.702–712. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/gim.2014.188.
  12. Hayashi, M., Ikeda, A., Yokota, M., Sako, H., Uchida, H., Ikeda, K. and Seijiro Okusawa (2017). Early anastomotic stricture occurring after colectomy that responded well to Transanal decompression and local steroid therapy: A case report. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijscr.2017.06.023.
  13. Hirai, F. (2017). Current status of endoscopic balloon dilation for Crohn’s disease. [online] 15(2), pp.166–166. doi:https://doi.org/10.5217/ir.2017.15.2.166.
  14. Sawai, R.S. (2012). Management of Colonic Obstruction: A Review. [online] 25(04), pp.200–203. doi:https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1329533.
  15. Hin, C., Rieder, F. and Holubar, S.D. (2019). Duodenojejunal Bypass and Strictureplasty for Diffuse Small Bowel Crohn’s Disease with a Step-by-Step Visual Guide. [online] 1(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/crocol/otz002.
  16. Hussain, Y. and Khan, H. (2022). Immunosuppressive Drugs. [online] pp.726–740. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-818731-9.00068-9.
  17. NHS UK. (2023). Dietary advice for managing narrowing of the bowels/strictures. [online] Available at: https://plr.cht.nhs.uk/download/514/Dietary%20advice%20for%20managing%20narrowing%20of%20the%20bowels%20strictures%20A4#:~:text=Well%20cooked%20and%20tender%20soft,Smooth%20pate.
Mitchelle Morgan

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Trusted Source

Go to source

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

Trusted Source

Go to source

African Journals Online

Non-profit Platform for African Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine

American Board of Family Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Informit

RMIT University Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Food Safety Authority

Science, Safe food, Sustainability

Trusted Source
Go to source

OrthoInfo

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Academy of Family Physicians

Strengthen family physicians and the communities they care for

Trusted Source
Go to source

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

The American Journal of Medicine

Official Journal of The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Lippincott Journals

Subsidiaries of Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Aging

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Translational Research

The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cell

An All-science Publisher

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of Translational Medicine

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Protecting America's Consumers

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Human Genome Research Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Food Production, Processing and Nutrition

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

BMC Gastroenterology

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

ACS Publications

A Division of The American Chemical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Annual Reviews

Independent, Non-profit Academic Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

PubChem

National Center for Biotechnology Information

National Library of Medicine
Go to source

PLOS Journals

Nonprofit Publisher of Open-access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Thieme E-books & E-Journals

Peer-reviewed & Open Access Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Peer-reviewed International Journal Publishes

Trusted Source
Go to source

Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Home

Chemical Science Journals, Books and Database

Trusted Source
Go to source

Frontiers

Publisher of Peer-reviewed Articles in Open Acess Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

De Gruyter

German Scholarly Publishing House

Trusted Source
Go to source

Hindawi

Open Access Research Journals & Papers

Trusted Source
Go to source

Oilseeds and Fats, Crops and Lipids

EDP Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge Core

Cambridge University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

FoodData Central

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the American Heart Association

Peer-reviewed Open Access Scientific Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Organization of Food and Nutrition Professionals

tr
Go to source

Sage Journals

Database From Sage Publications

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Drug Abuse

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The ClinMed International Library

A Repository and an Open Access Publisher for Medical Research

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Royal Society Publishing

United Kingdom's National Academy of Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

APA PsycNet

Database From American Psychological Association

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Pharma Innovation Journal

Peer-reviewed And Refereed Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development

Peer-reviewed Bimonthly Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

British Pharmacological Society

Journals - Wiley Online Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Psychological Association

Scientific and Professional Organization of Psychologists

Trusted Source
Go to source

AAP Publications

Database From American Academy of Pediatrics

Trusted Source
Go to source

Karger Publishers

Academic Publisher of Scientific and Medical Journals and Books

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Database From Cambridge University

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Mental Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

MDPI

Publisher of Open Access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Bulletin of the National Research Centre

Part of Springer Nature

Trusted Source
Go to source

The New England Journal of Medicine

Massachusetts Medical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Economic Research Service

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Trusted Source
Go to source

MedlinePlus

Database From National Library of Medicine

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

National Institute of Health

An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Trusted Source
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The BMJ

Weekly Peer-reviewed Medical Trade Journal

The British Medical Association
Go to source

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society is a charity registered in England

Database From Wiley Online Library
Go to source

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

DailyMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

Google Scholar

Go to source

Science.gov: USA.gov for Science

Government Science Portal

Go to source

ResearchGate

Social Network Service For Scientists

Find and share research
Go to source

American Heart Association

To be a rentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives

Go to source

BioMed Central

Research in progress

Go to source

JAMA Network

Home of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association

Go to source

Springer Link

Database From Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Springer - International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine
Go to source

ODS

Database from Office of Dietary Supplements

National Institutes of Health
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Bureaus of Consumer Protection, Competition and Economics
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

Oxford Academic Journals

Oxford University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

Taylor & Francis Online

Peer-reviewed Journals

Academic Publishing Division of Informa PLC
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Journal of Neurology

Peer-reviewed Medical Journal

American Academy of Neurology Journal
Go to source

ScienceDirect

Bibliographic Database of Scientific and Medical Publications

Dutch publisher Elsevier
Go to source

Wiley Online Library

American Multinational Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. National Public Health Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Federal Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source
Feedback

Help us rate this article

Thank you for your feedback

Keep in touch to see our improvement