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Nutr Clin Pract. 2013 Jun;28(3):307-16. doi: 10.1177/0884533613485904. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction.

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  • 1Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA. Scott.L.Gabbard@hitchcock.org


Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP) is a rare and serious disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized as a motility disorder with the primary defect of impaired peristalsis; symptoms are consistent with a bowel obstruction, although mechanical obstruction cannot be identified. CIP is classified as a neuropathy, myopathy, or mesenchymopathy; it is a neuropathic process in the majority of patients. The natural history of CIP is generally that of a progressive disorder, although occasional patients with secondary CIP note significant symptomatic improvement when the underlying disorder is identified and treated. Symptoms vary from patient to patient depending on the location of the luminal GI tract involved and the degree of involvement; however, the small intestine is nearly always involved. Common symptoms include dysphagia, gastroesophageal reflux, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal distension, constipation or diarrhea, and involuntary weight loss. Unfortunately, these symptoms are nonspecific, which can contribute to misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Since many of the symptoms and signs suggest a mechanical bowel obstruction, diagnostic tests typically focus on uncovering a mechanical obstruction, although routine tests do not identify an obstructive process. Nutrition supplementation is required for many patients with CIP due to symptoms of dysphagia, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. This review discusses the epidemiology, etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with CIP, with an emphasis on nutrition assessment and treatment options for patients with nutrition compromise.


enteral nutrition; intestinal diseases; intestinal pseudo-obstruction; parenteral nutrition

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