|Classification and external resources|
Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction is a clinical syndrome caused by severe impairment in the ability of the intestines to push food through. It is characterised by the signs and symptoms of intestinal obstruction without any lesion in the intestinal lumen. Clinical features can include abdominal pain, nausea, severe distension, vomiting, dysphagia, diarrhoea and constipation, depending upon the part of the gastrointestinal tract involved. The condition can begin at any age and it can be a primary condition (idiopathic or inherited) or caused by another disease (secondary).
In primary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (the majority of chronic cases), the condition may be caused by an injury to the smooth muscle (myopathic) or the nervous system (neuropathic) of the gastrointestinal tract.
Secondary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction can occur as a consequence of a number of other conditions, including Kawasaki disease, Parkinson's disease, Chagas' Disease, Hirschsprung's Disease, Intestinal Hypoganglionosis, collagen vascular diseases, endocrine disorders and use of certain medications. The term may be used synonymously with Enteric neuropathy if a neurological cause is suspected.
Clinical features of intestinal pseudo-obstruction can include abdominal pain, nausea, severe distension, vomiting, dysphagia, diarrhoea and constipation, depending upon the part of the gastrointestinal tract involved. In addition, in the moments in which abdominal colic occurs, abdominal x-ray shows intestinal air fluid level. All of these features are also similar in true mechanical obstruction of the bowel.
Attempts must be made to determine whether there is a secondary cause amenable to treatment.
Primary (idiopathic) intestinal pseudo-obstruction is diagnosed based on motility studies, x-rays and gastric emptying studies.
Secondary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction is managed by treating the underlying condition.
There is no cure for primary chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. It is important that nutrition and hydration is maintained, and pain relief is given. Drugs that increase the propulsive force of the intestines have been tried, as have different types of surgery.
Prucalopride, Pyridostigmine, Metoclopramide, cisapride, and erythromycin may be used, but they have not been shown to have great efficacy. In such cases, treatment is aimed at managing the complications. Linaclotide is a new drug that has not yet received approval by Food and Drug Administration but in the future looks promising in the treatment of Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction , Gastroparesis and Inertia coli.
Intestinal stasis, which may lead to bacterial overgrowth and subsequently, diarrhea or malabsorption is treated with antibiotics.
Nutritional deficiencies are treated by encouraging patients to avoid food high in fat and fibre, which increase abdominal distention and discomfort, and have small, frequent meals (5-6 per day), focusing on liquids and soft food. Reducing intake of poorly absorbed sugar alcohols may be of benefit. Referral to an accredited dietitian is recommended. If dietary changes are unsuccessful in meeting nutritional requirements and stemming weight loss, enteral nutrition is used. Many patients eventually require parenteral nutrition.
Surgical and other procedures
Intestinal decompression by colostomy or tube placement in a small stoma can also be used to reduce distension and pressure within the gut. The stoma may be a gastrostomy, enterostomy or cecostomy, and may also be used to feed or flush the intestines.
Colostomy or ileostomy can bypass affected parts if they are distal to (come after) the stoma. For instance, if only the large colon that is affected, an ileostomy may be helpful.
Resection of affected parts may be needed if part of the gut dies (for instance toxic megacolon), or if there is a localised area of dysmotility.
Gastric and colonic pacemakers have been tried. These are strips placed along the colon which create an electric discharge intended to cause the muscle to contract in a controlled manner.
A potential solution, albeit radical, is a multi-organ transplant. The operation involved transplanting the pancreas, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, and liver, and was performed by Doctor Kareem Abu-Elmagd on Gretchen Miller, the subject of the Discovery Channel program Surgery Saved My Life.
- Ogilvie syndrome: acute pseudoobstruction of the colon in severely ill debilitated patients.
- Hirschsprung's disease: enlargement of the colon due to lack of development of autonomic ganglia.
- Intestinal neuronal dysplasia: a disease of motor neurons leading to the bowels.
- Bowel obstruction: mechanical or functional obstruction of the bowel most commonly due to adhesions, hernias or neoplasms.
- Enteric neuropathy: alternative name sometimes used for diagnosis in UK
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- "Textbook of Gastroenterology" by Tadataka Yamada,Editor John Wiley & Sons, 2011 ISBN 144435941X, 9781444359411
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- Discovery Channel - Multiorgan transplant