In acute forms of obstruction all food should be withheld until the surgical treatment is completed. The mouth may be washed out with water acidified with lemon-juice, but little or nothing should be swallowed. The entrance of fluid into the stomach will nearly always provoke vomiting, so that nothing is gained. If it passes on into the bowel it will only serve to increase the distention.

In chronic cases, however, some food may often be given with advantage, and it should be such as will be digested and absorbed as quickly as possible. The cause of the obstruction in such cases is generally carcinoma of the colon, and both gastric and intestinal digestion are therefore impaired. Small quantities at short intervals of peptonized milk, somatose, panopepton, peptonised beef-jelly and alcohol are the most useful articles.