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Primary or idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction


Alternative names

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction; Ogilvie's syndrome

Definition

Primary or idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a condition characterized by symptoms of intestinal obstruction without physical evidence of such a blockage.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause is unknown. This disorder is usually seen in teenagers and young adults. In this condition, the intestine becomes distended for some reason, but no obstruction is found. Risk factors are unknown.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Constipation

Signs and tests

  • Abdominal X-ray
  • Barium swallow
  • Malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients from the intestinal tract)
  • Intestinal radionuclide scan
  • Esophageal manometry

Treatment

  • Nasogastric suction: A tube placed through the nose and down the esophagus (nasogastric tube) is used to decompress the bowel.
  • Intravenous fluids will replace fluids lost from vomiting or diarrhea .
  • Special diets are usually ineffective, although vitamin B12 supplements may be used for patients with vitamin deficiency.
  • A medication called neostigmine may be used to treat pseudo-obstruction of the large intestine.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disease may be recurrent and can persist over many years.

Complications

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if persistent abdominal pain or other symptoms of this disorder develop.

Update Date: 10/27/2002

Jenifer K. Lehrer, M.D., Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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