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Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction is a poorly recognised and potentially fatal complication of hip surgery. Between 1991 and 1994 six patients were observed who required laparotomy after failure of medical management. In three the indication was signs of peritonism, while in the other three exploration was required to exclude segmental ischaemia and to decompress the bowel. In all, there was no evidence of mechanical obstruction. Patients having total hip replacement are at risk of developing pseudo-obstruction due to their age, comorbidity, high doses of analgesics and the nature of the operation. If postoperative ileus persists for more than 48 hours acute colonic pseudo-obstruction should be suspected and confirmed by plain radiography. Prompt recognition and treatment with early referral to a colorectal unit are indicated. Laparotomy appears to carry less risk than that for patients with idiopathic pseudo-obstruction, but should be performed only if colonic ischaemia is suspected.


Journal article


J bone joint surg br

Publication Date





621 - 623


Acute Disease, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Colonic Pseudo-Obstruction, Female, Hip Prosthesis, Humans, Laparotomy, Male, Middle Aged, Postoperative Complications, Retrospective Studies