What is Ileus?

Ileus or gastrointestinal atony is a disruption of the normal propulsive gastrointestinal motor activity due to non-mechanical causes.

In contrast, motility disorders that result from structural abnormalities are termed mechanical bowel obstruction.

Some mechanical obstructions are misnomers, such as gallstone ileus and meconium ileus, and are not true examples of ileus by the classic definition.

Postoperative Ileus

It is a temporary paralysis of a portion of the intestines typically after an abdominal surgery. Since the intestinal content of this portion is unable to move forward, food or drink should be avoided until peristaltic sound is heard from auscultation of the area where this portion lies.

Paralytic Ileus

Paralysis of the intestine. To be termed "paralytic ileus," the intestinal paralysis need not be complete, but it must be sufficient to prohibit the passage of food through the intestine and lead to intestinal blockage.

Paralytic ileus is a common side effect of some types of surgery. It can also result from certain drugs and from various injuries and illnesses. Paralytic ileus causes constipation and bloating. On listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope, no bowel sounds are heard because the bowel is inactive.

Acute colonic pseudoobstruction

Also known as Ogilvie's syndrome.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014

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