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Ileus, paralytic

A disorder in which the muscles of the intestines are not able to contract as they should, and as a result of this the intestinal contents cannot pass out of the body.  Paralytic ileus is generally a temporary condition.  It frequently follows abdominal surgery and can also arise after severe abdominal injury, peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining of the abdomen), acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), interference of the blood or nerve supply to the intestine and major disturbances in blood chemistry (for example, diabetic ketoacidosis).  Symptoms include vomiting, swollen abdomen, and failure to pass faeces.

The condition is treated by resting the intestine.  A tube passed through the mouth or nose into the stomach or intestine removes built up fluids and keeps the stomach empty.  Body fluid levels are maintained by intravenous infusion (drip).  A lot of the time the tubes that are passed into the stomach contain bacteria and produce secondary illnesses.


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