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Intestinal pseudo-obstruction

  • Definition

    Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a condition in which there are symptoms of intestinal blockage without any physical signs of a blockage.


    Alternative Names

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


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    In primary intestinal pseudo-obstruction, the small or large intestines lose their ability to contract and push food, stool, and air through the gastrointestinal tract.

    The condition can occur suddenly (acute) or over time (chronic). It may occur at any age, but is most common in children and the elderly. Because the cause is unknown, it is also called idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (idiopathic means occurring without reason).

    Risk factors include:

    • Having cerebral palsy or other nervous system (neurologic) disorders
    • Staying in bed for long periods of time (bedridden)
    • Taking narcotic (pain) medications