Intestinal pseudoobstruction is a clinical syndrome characterized by impairment of intestinal propulsion, which may resemble intestinal obstruction, in the absence of a mechanical cause. It usually affects the colon but the small intestine may also be involved, and may present in acute, subacute or chronic forms. We have performed a systematic review of the acute form of pseudoobstruction, also referred to as Ogilvie's syndrome. We discuss proposed pathophysiological mechanisms, manifestations and management of this clinical condition in post-surgery and critically ill patients. The hallmark of the syndrome is massive Intestinal distension, which is detected on clinical inspection and plain abdominal radiography. The underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are not fully understood. Therefore, treatment has focussed on preventing intestinal perforation, which is associated with a 21% mortality rate.
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