In intestinal pseudo-obstruction, foods and liquids are unable to pass through the intestine, causing a build-up of food, fluid, and gas in all or part of the colon. The symptoms of this condition act like a mechanical bowel obstruction, but no blockage is found when doctors examine the intestine.
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is caused by problems with the muscles and nerves of the intestine.
The following factors are thought to increase the risk of developing intestinal pseudo-obstruction:
Symptoms of intestinal pseudo-obstruction may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your body structures. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent bacterial infections due to your condition. In addition, medications can be used to treat muscle problems in the intestines. Changes in your medications may be made to eliminate some medications that can slow recovery from, or worsen, this condition.
In severe cases of intestinal pseudo-obstruction, surgery to remove part or your entire intestine may be necessary.
If the colon does not resume normal function after conservative management, the pressure build-up in the colon can be relieved by removing the trapped air with a colonoscope.
Many cases of intestinal pseudo-obstruction cannot be prevented. But certain measures can be taken after surgery to help avoid the complication of intestinal pseudo-obstruction. These measures include:
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Canadian Society of Intestinal Research
Acute intestinal pseudo-obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114336/Acute-intestinal-pseudo-obstruction. Updated July 12, 2014. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/intestinal-pseudo-obstruction/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated February 26, 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.