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Am J Surg. 2001 Nov;182(5A Suppl):3S-10S.

Review of postoperative ileus.

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  • 1Hvidovre University Hospital, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, DK-2650, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Postoperative ileus (POI) is an inevitable adverse consequence of surgical procedures. In fact, prolonged POI can lead to patient discomfort, decreased mobility, delayed enteral feeding, and ultimately, prolonged hospitalizations and increased costs. It is believed that POI occurs as a result of inhibitory neural reflexes and inflammatory processes. The use of postoperative opioids also appears to contribute to ileus. Recently, the potential influence of endogenous opioids, in addition to exogenous opioids, on the pathogenesis of ileus has come to light and spurred investigations into new treatment strategies. Over the years, several treatment modalities have become accepted management options for POI; chief among these are nasogastric suction and prokinetic agents. However, data demonstrating that these agents reduce the duration of POI are limited. Of current treatment modalities, use of epidural local anesthetics appears to be the most effective means of reducing POI. Other potentially effective treatments include early enteral feeding and less invasive surgical procedures. Together, these techniques have reduced the length of stay after colonic surgery to 2 to 3 days. Future studies, including those incorporating investigational agents, such as kappa-opioid agonists and peripheral mu-opioid antagonists, into a multimodal regimen, may offer new treatment options to further impact POI duration.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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