Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction

Intestinal false blockage is a condition that causes symptoms like those of a bowel blockage (obstruction). It is also called pseudo-obstruction. But when the intestines are examined, no obstruction is found. A problem in how the muscles and nerves in the intestines work causes the symptoms.


  • Cramps.

  • Stomach pain.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Bloating.

  • Fewer bowel movements than usual.

  • Loose stools.

Over time, pseudo-obstruction can cause:

  • Bacterial infections.

  • Malnutrition.

  • Muscle problems in other parts of the body.

  • Some people also have bladder problems.


  • Diseases that affect muscles and nerves can cause similar symptoms. These diseases include:

  • Lupus erythematosus.

  • Scleroderma.

  • Parkinson's disease.

  • When a disease causes the symptoms, the condition is called secondary intestinal pseudo-obstruction.

  • Medications that affect muscles and nerves might also cause secondary pseudo-obstruction. Examples include:

  • Opiates.

  • Antidepressants.


Your caregiver:

  • May take a complete medical history.

  • May do a physical exam.

  • May take X-rays.


  • Intravenous feeding (nutritional support). This will prevent malnutrition.

  • Antibiotics. These are used to treat bacterial infections.

  • Medication. This might also be given to treat intestinal muscle problems.

  • In severe cases, surgery might be needed. It would be used to remove part of the intestine.