Paralytic ileus in the orthopaedic patient

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2015 Jun;23(6):365-72. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-14-00162. Epub 2015 Apr 26.


Paralytic ileus is marked by the cessation of bowel motility. This condition is a major clinical concern that may lead to severe patient morbidity in orthopaedic surgery and trauma patients. Ileus most commonly occurs following spinal surgery, traumatic injury, or lower extremity joint reconstruction, but it may also occur following minor orthopaedic procedures. Possible consequences of ileus include abdominal pain, malnutrition, prolonged hospital stay, hospital readmission, bowel perforation, and death. Therapies used in the treatment of ileus include minimization of opioids, early patient mobilization, pharmacologic intervention, and multidisciplinary care. Orthopaedic surgeons should be aware of the clinical signs and symptoms of paralytic ileus and should understand treatment principles of this relatively common adverse event.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / etiology*
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / therapy
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors