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September 19, 1925


JAMA. 1925;85(12):904-905. doi:10.1001/jama.1925.02670120042017

Acute intestinal obstruction is one of the disconcerting clinical conditions that present a confusing problem to the physician. Intestinal occlusion can be imitated experimentally so as to bring about many symptoms identical with those seen in human patients; nevertheless the search for the determining etiologic factors has directed the investigators into a considerable variety of pathways each of which seemed at first to lead to a correct solution, yet ultimately failed to satisfy on critical consideration. The fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc seems to have been displayed conspicuously in this quest. Concomitants have doubtless been confused at times with causes. Consequently the question of the lethal factors remains at issue and therefore justifies further debate.

It is important to distinguish between two well defined types of acute intestinal occlusion. In one of these, the acute strangulation observed in volvulus, intussusception and strangulated hernia, there is not merely a