Published Date: September 7, 2023

Full Text Article

Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction post-cesarean section is not a benign entity: A case series and review of the literature

Authors: Ian S Reynolds, Edward McDermott, Richard Liddy, John J Aird, Karen Flood, Orla McCormack, Tony Geoghegan, Ann E Brannigan

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2023 Sep 7. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.15086. Online ahead of print.


Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction (ACPO) is an infrequent occurrence after cesarean section. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the clinical course of ACPO in the obstetric setting is different to that seen in non-pregnant adult patients with ACPO secondary to alternative causes, such as systemic illnesses, the use of certain medications, and after non-abdominal surgery. The risk of progression to ischemia and perforation, as well as the need for emergency surgery, appears to be higher after cesarean section. Here we describe the clinical course of ACPO in four patients after cesarean section from our institution, followed by a review of the literature and a discussion of the important issues surrounding this condition in the postpartum time period. The findings from our cohort of patients and the reports from the medical literature support a hands-on combined approach from a group of specialists including obstetricians, surgeons, radiologists, and enterostomal therapists. Immediate imaging followed by regular observation is mandatory for any patient being managed conservatively. Early use of endoscopic decompression should be considered for patients who are not resolving with a conservative approach. Clinical signs of peritonism or radiological signs of ischemia or perforation in patients with ACPO mandate immediate surgical intervention. Appropriate postoperative care is necessary to deal with the complex physiological and psychological consequences of emergency surgery and potential stoma formation so soon after cesarean section.

PMID: 37675884DOI: 10.1002/ijgo.15086