Purpose: Our aim was to assess the value of a parasympathomimetic drug (neostigmine) in the early resolution of acute colonic pseudo-obstruction (Ogilvie's syndrome).
Methods: A prospective study was undertaken in 18 consecutive patients (mean age, 76 (range, 31-87) years) with acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. After a varying period of conservative treatment in all cases, 16 patients with persistent, massive abdominal distention were given intravenous neostigmine.
Results: A rapid and satisfactory clinical and radiologic decompression of the large bowel was obtained in 12 patients (75 percent) after a single dose of the drug; another patient had complete resolution after a second dose, and the other 3 patients had only partial resolution, in one of them after a second dose of the drug. No patient required surgical decompression of the bowel.
Conclusion: These results give support to the theory of excessive parasympathetic suppression in most cases of Ogilvie's syndrome. The treatment with intravenous neostigmine has proved very effective, preventing in many cases prolonged periods of uncomfortable and potentially hazardous conventional conservative management and avoiding surgical treatment in a consecutive series of patients.