ZocdocAnswersWhat is intestinal pseudo-obstruction?

Question

What is intestinal pseudo-obstruction?

My son was having trouble on the toilet, so we took him to the doctor ? they floated the idea that he might have an intestinal pseudo-obstruction. What does this mean? Why is it a 'pseudo' obstruction, and what can we do to take care of him?

Answer

Intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a syndrome where the bowels motility is greatly reduced causing back up of intestinal contents and constipation. The reason it is called intestinal pseudo-obstruction is because the abdominal x-ray looks similar to actual mechanical obstruction showing dilated loops of bowel, but there is no mechanical force obstructing the bowel. Symptoms of pseudo obstruction include nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, and even fear of food if severe enough. The work up includes getting the abdominal x-ray and possibly and abdominal CT scan if the x-ray is inconclusive. Other tests may need to be performed including manometry (intestinal pressure readings) and biopsies if a definitive diagnosis. There are many causes of intestinal pseudo-obstruction including the use of opioid pain killers and GI nervous system dysfunction from improper or incomplete development. Treatment initially is medications such as Metaclopromide and Erythromycin. They both increase intestinal motility to get food and waste moving forward. Keep in mind that without the proper imaging, intestinal pseudo obstruction cannot be considered as the final diagnosis. I would schedule another appointment with your son's doctor to continue the workup. Constipation isn't any fun for kids or adults. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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