What is ileus?

Ileus is a condition where bowel movement stops for a period of time. It often occurs after surgery on the abdomen. The stomach and the small bowel recover usually within 24 hours after surgery. However, the large intestine takes much longer to recover, sometimes up to 72 hours. This then leads to a backing up of the bowel contents at the level of the colon.

What are the signs and symptoms of ileus?

Swelling of the bowel, abdominal pain and vomiting of dark bowel contents with a fecal smell are common signs and symptoms of ileus. Blood poisoning (toxemia) and dehydration may also be present. If neglected, ileus can cause shock and pus to form in the infected area (sepsis). Upon examination, the physician will fail to hear the normal bowel sounds in the abdomen. Swollen bowel loops can be seen on X-rays of the abdomen.

How is ileus treated?

Ileus is treated through decompression therapy, which involves providing continuous suctioning through a tube hooked throwback jerseys up to a vacuum machine. Food intake is restricted until the bowel sounds reappear and the patient passes gas. The potassium level is monitored as a low potassium level could also contribute to the ileus. Intravenous fluids are given to treat dehydration. When the patient starts to pass gas, their diet is gradually built up from fluids to a full diet over a period of three days.

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