• Failure or insufficiency in the peristalsis movement of the gastrointestinal tract which normally moves GI contents from mouth to anus.
  • Thought to be caused by a disruption in either the neural and/or neuro-hormonal reflexes that normally regulate bowel motility.
  • Multiple causes possible - likely an inflammatory condition
  • Peritonitis (e.g. from infection, malignancy, trauma)
  • Clostridium difficile colitis

Clinical Features

  • Abdominal pain/distension
  • Nausea/vomiting, inability to tolerate PO/enteral feeding
  • Constipation
  • Absent or hypoactive bowel sounds
  • Can produce intestinal ischemia, intestinal perforation, abdominal compartment syndrome

Differential Diagnosis


  • BMP, Mg
  • Abdominal X-ray: air fluid levels, air in bowel, distended bowel
  • Evaluate for underlying causes
  • If concern for SBO, CT abdomen



See Also


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