Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction

Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb;8(1):3-11. doi: 10.1007/s11938-005-0046-4.


Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP) is a gastrointestinal motility disorder characterized by chronic symptoms and signs of bowel obstruction in the absence of a fixed, lumen-occluding lesion. Radiographic findings consist of dilated bowel with air-fluid levels. Pseudo-obstruction is an uncommon condition and can result from primary or secondary causes. The management is primarily focused on symptom control and nutritional support to prevent weight loss and malnutrition. The principles of management of patients with CIP involve 1) establishing a correct clinical diagnosis and excluding mechanical obstruction; 2) differentiating between idiopathic and secondary forms; 3) performing a symptomatic and physiologic assessment of the parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract involved by manometric and whole gut transit scintigraphic studies; 4) careful assessment of nutritional status of the patient; and 5) developing a therapeutic plan addressing the patient's symptoms and nutritional status. Treatment of CIP includes frequent small meals with a low-fat, low-fiber diet, liquid nutritional supplements may be needed; prokinetic agents such as metoclopramide may help to reduce upper GI symptoms. Trials of drugs such as erythromycin, domperidone, cisapride, and tegaserod may be considered if there is no response. Subcutaneous octreotide may be helpful to improve small bowel dysmotility especially in patients with scleroderma. In patients with symptoms suggestive of bacterial overgrowth, courses of antibiotics such as metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, and doxycycline may be needed. Nutritional assessment and support is an important aspect of management. Enteral nutrition is usually preferred. In carefully selected patients, feeding jejunostomy with or without decompression gastrostomy may be tried. Long term parenteral nutrition should be reserved for patients who can not tolerate enteral nutrition. Complications associated with total parenteral nutrition include infections, sepsis, and cholestatic hepatic dysfunction.