Ogilvie Syndrome

Ogilvie syndrome is a rare syndrome that occurs when there is an inability to properly pass food through the intestines. While the exact cause of the syndrome remains unknown, it commonly occurs in very ill patients or those who have undergone recent surgery. Patients who undergo coronary artery bypass surgery or total joint replacement surgery have an increased risk for developing Ogilvie syndrome. This syndrome also appears to be associated with certain neurological disorders, metabolic disturbances and infections. Those with cardio respiratory inefficiencies also have an increased risk for this syndrome.

When the intestines begin to function improperly, the colon will dilate, making it difficult for food to properly pass through the intestines. As this happens, the food becomes trapped in the colon, causing it to dilate further. The longer the colon remains dilated, the greater the risk for ischemic necrosis becomes. If this occurs, the area will begin to die as a result of the pressure and tension within the area.

Often, patients with Ogilvie syndrome experience pain and altered bowel movements, as well as nausea and vomiting. Excessive belching, gas and bloating often occur as well. This often causes cramping to occur. In order to treat Ogilvie syndrome, all food and fluid intake through the mouth are stopped. A feeding tube is then used to ensure a patient receives adequate nutrition will the dilation ceases. However, this technique isn’t always successful, in which case a colonscopic decompression is needed to determine the next course of treatment.

Even with treatment, this can be a fatal syndrome. About 30 percent of those with Ogilvie syndrome die. However, the syndrome itself is often not the cause of death. It’s often due to the syndrome combined with the underlying health condition.

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