Paralytic Ileus

What is Paralytic Ileus?
This is a type of bowel obstruction, but instead of being caused by some mechanical means, it is simply due to intestinal immobility. Normally peristaltic waves of contraction constantly move along the length of the bowel, pushing the fluid contents forwards at all times.
However, under certain circumstances, most commonly following surgical operations on the abdomen, a portion of the bowel suddenly ceases to pass on the waves of contraction. This probably occurs to a small extent after most abdominal operations, but it invariably reverts to normal function after a short time, with no adverse aftermath.
Accidents and a variety of other less commonly encountered causes may also produce the complication.
Paralytic Ileus Symptoms
There is usually a history of recent operation, accident or precipitating cause. Vomiting usually occurs, and constipation is the rule. Peristalsis is usually markedly diminished or absent. This is evidenced by complete silence when the abdomen is checked with a stethoscope. Abdominal distension is present, and soreness may or may not occur. X-rays show distension of the bowel with gas throughout (different from an obstruction where only the part above the obstruction shows distension).
Paralytic Ileus Treatment
Most patients are already in hospital, recuperating from a surgical operation. Treatment involves supplying adequate fluids, restricting the oral intake of food, decompressing the bowel (it may be necessary to intubate the patient, by passing a tube into the bowel) and dealing with any suspected underlying disorder. Most cases respond well to these measures, and the paralysed intestine soon resumes normal function.