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Lisa Marie Presley died from a bowel obstruction following prior weight-loss surgery: What to know

Lisa Marie Presley died at age 54 from complications of a small bowel obstruction, according to an autopsy report.

Lisa Marie Presley on red carpet, Lisa Marie Presley died from complications of a small bowel obstruction from previous bariatric surgery, Lisa Marie Presley cause of death revealed
Lisa Marie Presley died from complications of a small bowel obstruction from previous bariatric surgery (Getty Images).

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Lisa Marie Presley died from complications of a small bowel obstruction, according to an autopsy report. She was 54.

Presley, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, died on Jan. 12 after suffering a cardiac episode in her home in Calabasas, Calif.

According to the L.A. County medical examiner's autopsy report obtained by The L.A. Times, the singer-songwriter died from complications of a weight-loss surgery she underwent years prior.

"The obstruction was in the form of a strangulated small bowel caused by adhesions that developed after bariatric surgery years ago," the report said. "This is a known long-term complication of this type of surgery."

Bariatric surgery is the collective name for gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries. It involves making changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, and Riley Keough attend the Handprint Ceremony honoring Three Generations of Presley's at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 21, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley, and Riley Keough attend the Handprint Ceremony honoring Three Generations of Presley's at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 21, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

What is a small bowel obstruction?

A small bowel obstruction is a blockage in the small intestine, stopping food or liquid from passing normally through the digestive tract.

The small intestine is connected to the stomach and the large intestine. It ranges from 20 to 30 feet long and measures about one inch in diameter. Partly digested food passes from the stomach to the small intestine, where its lining absorbs nutrients, vitamins, minerals and water.

A small bowel obstruction causes waste matter and gases to build up. It can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients and fluids. Without treatment, the blocked parts of the intestine can die, which can be life-threatening.

Partly digested food passes from the stomach to the small intestine, where its lining absorbs nutrients, vitamins, minerals and water (Getty Images).
Partly digested food passes from the stomach to the small intestine, where its lining absorbs nutrients, vitamins, minerals and water (Getty Images).

What causes a small bowel obstruction?

The leading cause of a small bowel obstruction in the developed world is intra-abdominal adhesions —bands of scar-like tissue that form inside your abdomen.

In the United States, earlier abdominal surgery is the leading risk factor for small bowel obstruction. However, there are many common causes and risk factors.

Hernias and inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease are possible reasons for intestinal obstruction. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, bowel obstruction can also be caused by cancerous tumours and cancer treatment.

What are the symptoms of a small bowel obstruction?

The Canadian Cancer Society advises that symptoms of bowel obstruction can vary depending on its cause and other factors. However, symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Swelling, or distension, of the abdomen

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Lack of appetite

  • Severe constipation

  • Dry mouth and bad breath

Risks and complications of a small bowel obstruction

A bowel obstruction can lead to serious and life-threatening conditions if left untreated. A partial or complete obstruction causes air, fluid, and food to be trapped, leading the intestine to swell. Swelling lessens its ability to absorb fluid, causing dehydration and kidney failure.

If there is excess swelling, the intestine may rupture or burst, which can cause a severe infection in the abdominal cavity.

When the intestine is blocked, blood flow to the affected area may be reduced, and without blood flow, parts of the intestine can die.

All these conditions are serious and may require emergency surgery.

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