What is intestinal pseudo-obstruction?
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction describes an intestinal disorder that can mimic intestinal obstruction (blockage of the intestine). It can occur at any time of life, and its symptoms range from mild to severe.
The condition may arise from abnormalities of the gastrointestinal muscles themselves (myogenic) or from problems with the nerves that control the muscle contractions (neurogenic).
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction leads to a buildup of partially digested food in the intestines. This buildup can cause abdominal swelling (distention) and pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation or diarrhea.
Who is more likely to have intestinal pseudo-obstruction?
This condition can occur in people of any age. Some infants are born with congenital intestinal pseudo-obstruction, and some people develop this condition as adults. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction may be acute, occurring suddenly and lasting a short time, or it may be chronic, or long lasting.
What causes intestinal pseudo-obstruction?
Problems with nerves, muscles, or interstitial cells of Cajal cause intestinal pseudo-obstruction. These problems prevent normal contractions of the intestines and cause problems with the movement of food, fluid, and air through the intestines.
What are the symptoms of intestinal pseudo-obstruction?
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction symptoms may include:
• abdominal swelling or bloating, also called distension
• abdominal pain
How is intestinal pseudo-obstruction treated?
A medical doctor will treat intestinal pseudo-obstruction with nutritional support, medications, and, in some cases, decompression. Rarely, a person will need surgery. If an illness, a medication, or both cause intestinal pseudo-obstruction, a medical doctor will treat the underlying illness, stop the medication, or do both.
1. Cleveland Clinic. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Available at https://mycleveland.org
2. NIH NIDDK. Intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Available at https://NIDDK.nih.gov
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