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Intestinal pseudo-obstruction

Primary intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Acute colonic ileus; Colonic pseudo-obstruction; Idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Ogilvie syndrome; Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Paralytic ileus - pseudo-obstruction

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a condition in which there are symptoms of blockage of the intestine (bowels) without any physical blockage.

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Digestive system organs

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Causes

In intestinal pseudo-obstruction, the intestine is unable to contract and push food, stool, and air through the digestive tract. The disorder most often affects the small intestine, but can also occur in the large intestine.

The condition may start suddenly or be a chronic or long-term problem. It is most common in children and older people. The cause of the problem is often unknown.

Risk factors include:

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

During a physical exam, the health care provider will most often see abdominal bloating.

Tests include:

Treatment

The following treatments may be tried:

In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most cases of acute pseudo-obstruction get better in a few days with treatment. In chronic forms of the disease, symptoms can come back and get worse over many years.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have abdominal pain that does not go away or other symptoms of this disorder.

Related Information

Intestinal obstruction and Ileus
Diarrhea

References

Camilleri M. Disorders of gastrointestinal motility. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 127.

Rayner CK, Hughes PA. Small intestinal motor and sensory function and dysfunction. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 99.

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Review Date: 4/30/2020  

Reviewed By: Bradley J. Winston, MD, board certified in gastroenterology and hepatology, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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