Postoperative ileus—An ongoing conundrum

David Wattchow, Paul Heitmann, David Smolilo, Nick J. Spencer, Dominic Parker, Timothy Hibberd, Simon S.J. Brookes, Phil G. Dinning, Marcello Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Postoperative ileus is common and is a major clinical problem. It has been widely studied in patients and in experimental models in laboratory animals. A wide variety of treatments have been tested to prevent or modify the course of this disorder. Purpose: This review draws together information on animal studies of ileus with studies on human patients. It summarizes some of the conceptual advances made in understanding the mechanisms that underlie paralytic ileus. The treatments that have been tested in human subjects (both pharmacological and non-pharmacological) and their efficacy are summarized and graded consistent with current clinical guidelines. The review is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview of ileus, but rather a general understanding of the major clinical problems associated with it, how animal models have been useful to elucidate key mechanisms and, finally, some perspectives from both scientists and clinicians as to how we may move forward with this debilitating yet common condition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14046
Number of pages11
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number5
Early online date30 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • ileus
  • intestinal nervous system
  • postoperative


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