Ileus (adynamic or paralytic ileus) is a type of bowel obstruction that occurs when the intestines stop moving normally even though there is nothing blocking them. This prevents the digestion of food and the movement of waste out of the body.

Ileus can also be called a nonmechanical bowel obstruction.

Ileus most commonly occurs after abdominal surgery, though it has many other possible causes. Symptoms of adynamic ileus include:

  • Cramping abdominal (belly) pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Nausea and vomiting. Vomit may be green or dark.
  • Minimal or no passage of gas or stool.

This combination of symptoms requires immediate medical evaluation.

Treatment for ileus begins with intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes. This treatment helps to keep blood pressure at a normal level and prevent dehydration. A tube placed in the nose and down into the stomach removes digestive fluids, which helps relieve and prevent pain and bloating.

When ileus occurs after surgery, the intestines usually move normally after about 1 to 3 days.

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology