JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Intestinal pseudo-obstruction]

G Heilmann, J F Erckenbrecht
Therapeutische Umschau. Revue Thérapeutique 1994, 51 (3): 208-15
8160167
Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a rare and heterogeneous syndrome caused by severe disorders of gastrointestinal motility. It affects the entire gastrointestinal tract or only segments, giving rise to symptoms and physical signs of a mechanical obstruction of the gut despite negative results of all imaging procedures. The disease may occur in an acute or chronic form. The acute and some of the chronic forms develop as complication of other gastrointestinal or extragastrointestinal diseases, e.g. pancreatitis or systemic sclerosis. The primary forms of chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction are most often caused by genetic neuromuscular disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g. familial visceral neuropathies. The diagnosis of intestinal pseudo-obstruction is based on the exclusion of a mechanical obstruction of the gut by fluoroscopy and endoscopy. Manometric studies may disclose the underlying disorder of gastrointestinal motility. In a few patients, results of all imaging procedures as well as motility studies are inconclusive, and laparatomy (with full thickness biopsy of the gut wall) has to be performed to exclude mechanical obstruction of the gut. Acute intestinal pseudo-obstruction is treated by elimination of the underlying intestinal or extraintestinal disease. In case of extensive colonic dilatation with imminent colonic perforation endoscopic decompression should be evaluated. Treatment of chronic pseudo-obstruction aims to correct the underlying motility disorder. Usually, restoration of normal gastrointestinal motility is attempted by prokinetic drugs, but often their effect is limited. Surgery may be helpful in the few patients in whom the disease is confined to small segments of the gut, leaving all other parts unaffected. Some patients with otherwise intractable disease may need long-term parenteral nutrition.

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