LivingWhat is ileus?

What is ileus?

Generally, the muscles of the intestines contract and relax to cause a wave motion called peristalsis. This movement helps food travel through the intestines. When an ileus occurs, peristalsis stops and prevents the passage of food particles, gases and liquids through the digestive tract.

If people continue to eat solid foods, it can lead to a build-up of food particles, which can lead to a partial or complete blockage of the intestines.

An ileus most commonly occurs after abdominal or pelvic surgery . By some estimates, ileus or other intestinal obstruction is the second most common cause of hospital readmission within the first month after surgery.


-Normal peristalsis takes time to return to normal after surgery
-Prescription medications after surgery affect bowel movement.
-Post-surgical scarring can cause a blockage

Some of the medications that affect the muscles and nerves in the digestive tract include:

opioid medications to relieve pain
-anticholinergics, which are used to treat many conditions, including bladder conditions, COPD, and Parkinson’s disease
-Calcium channel blockers, which are often used to treat heart conditions.

Risk factor’s

-Advanced age
-Digestive conditions, such as diverticulitis.
-Electrolyte imbalance
– History of radiation near the abdomen.
– Intestinal injury
-Lose weight very quickly
-Peripheral artery disease


-stomach ache
-Stomach swollen
-constipation or watery stools
loss of appetite

Ileus and intestinal obstruction

An ileus and a bowel obstruction have similarities, but an ileus is due to muscle or nerve problems that stop peristalsis, while an obstruction is a physical blockage in the digestive tract. However, a type of ileus known as paralytic ileus can cause a physical blockage due to the accumulation of food in the intestines.


To diagnose ileus, the doctor will ask about symptoms and take a complete medical history. They will ask for:

-current or past medical conditions
-use of medications
-Surgical history

Then, they will perform a physical exam to check for swelling or pain in the abdomen. Imaging tests are generally required to confirm a diagnosis. The tests used include:

X-ray. An abdominal X-ray can show some obstructions, but it does not always show an ileus or other intestinal problem.
Computed tomography (CT). A CT scan provides more detail than standard X-ray images. These scans are more likely to highlight an ileus because they show the intestines from different angles.
Ultrasound . Doctors often diagnose children with suspected ileus by ultrasound. Ultrasound scans usually show a rolled area in the intestine if positive.
Air or barium enema . This involves inserting air or liquid barium into the colon through the rectum and then taking X-rays of the abdomen. This procedure can resolve an ileus caused by intussusception in some children.


An undiagnosed and untreated ileus can cause serious and life-threatening complications, such as : necrosis (tissue death) or infection. Necrosis occurs when blood cannot reach the intestine. The intestinal tissue dies and becomes weak. A weak intestinal wall is prone to rupture, causing intestinal contents to leak out. Regarding infection, the intestinal contents are full of bacteria. When they leak into the abdominal cavity, they cause a serious infection called peritonitis. Bacterial peritonitis can lead to sepsis, a widespread infection that can be fatal.

Being aware of the symptoms is key to improving the prognosis and reducing the risk of complications from an ileus. It is essential to seek medical treatment immediately as soon as symptoms appear.

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