What is Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 08, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • CIP is a rare, potentially disabling gastrointestinal disorder.
  • It is characterized by abnormalities affecting the GI tract.
  • Its symptoms match those of mechanical obstruction of the small bowel.
  • It can potentially cause severe, even life-threatening complications.

Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP) is a rare, potentially disabling gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abnormalities affecting the involuntary, coordinated muscular contractions (a process called peristalsis) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Peristalsis prompts food and other stuff through the digestive system under the control of nerves, pacemaker cells and hormones.

CIP commonly is a result of irregularities affecting the muscles or nerves that are involved in peristalsis. Accordingly, peristalsis becomes varied and ineffective.

The symptoms of CIP match those induced by mechanical obstruction of the small bowel. Mechanical obstruction refers to something (such as a tumour, scar tissue, etc.) physically stopping the transition of food and other material through the GI tract.

What is Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction

In individuals with CIP, no such physical blockage is present, hence the term pseudo-obstruction. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling (distention) and constipation.

Ultimately, normal nutritional necessities cannot be met contributing to unintended weight loss and malnourishment. CIP can potentially cause serious, even life-threatening complications.

The main treatment for intestinal pseudo-obstruction involves giving nutritional support to prevent malnutrition and antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Disorders that may coexist and aggravate symptoms of pseudo-obstruction--such as gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying), gastroesophageal reflux, or bacterial overgrowth need to be identified and treated.

Over the last various decades, awareness about pseudo-obstruction has increased impressively within the medical community. Diagnosis and treatment have hence improved. Nevertheless, extended clinical and basic research is required before the disease is fully understood and improved treatment or ultimately a cure found.

Image: Getty

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