Ileus is a type of bowel obstruction. It happens when wavelike contractions stop. This is called peristalsis. Peristalsis pushes material along the digestive pathway.
Small Bowel Distention
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The nerves and muscles of the intestines are not working as they should. Damage to them may be caused by:
Your chances of ileus are higher for:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Some tests will rule out other causes if it’s not clear. You may have:
Ileus may go away on its own within 2 to 3 days. If the cause is known, it will need to be treated.
It can also be treated with:
There is no way to prevent ileus in some cases. If you’re having surgery, your healthcare team will take steps to help lower your chances of it.
American College of Gastroenterology
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Acute intestinal pseud-obstruction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114336/Acute-intestinal-pseudo-obstruction . Updated July 12, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2018.
Ileus. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/acute-abdomen-and-surgical-gastroenterology/ileus. Updated January 2017. Accessed August 15, 2018.
Intestinal obstruction and ileus. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/intestinal-obstruction-and-ileus. Updated April 23, 2014. Accessed August 15, 2018.
Prevention and management of postoperative ileus. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905418/Prevention-and-management-of-postoperative-ileus . Updated April 5, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 08/15/2018