Intestinal pseudo-obstruction

Bernard Coulie, Michael Camilleri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Pseudo-obstruction syndromes are increasingly recognized in clinical practice. They result from impairment of intrinsic neuromuscular or extrinsic control of gut motility. Typically, pseudo-obstruction syndromes result in features suggestive of mechanical obstruction and bowel dilatation in the absence of any demonstrable obstruction or mucosal disease. The syndrome may affect any region of the gut. Less severe variants without bowel dilatation are diagnosed by measurement of gastrointestinal transit and pressure profiles. The aims of treatment are restoration of nutrition and hydration, symptom relief, normalization of intestinal propulsion with prokinetics, and suppression of bacterial overgrowth. Surgery plays a limited role, adjunctive to medical treatment, facilitating enteral nutrition and decompression by means of jejunostomy. Infrequently, resection of localized disease or intestinal transplantation are indicated. The roles of intestinal pacemakers (interstitial cells of Cajal) and genetic mutations in the etiology of pseudo-obstruction, as well as the cost-benefit ratio of transplantation for pseudo-obstruction, will be clarified in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 17 1999


  • Autonomic neuropathy
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Motility disorder
  • Myopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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