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February 27, 1904


Author Affiliations

Professor Surgery Medical Department, Washington University; Surgeon to Polyclinic Hospital; Surgeon In Chief of the Jewish Hospital. ST. LOUIS.

JAMA. 1904;XLII(9):569-575. doi:10.1001/jama.1904.92490540001001

VARIETIES OF ILEUS.  The medical writers of classical antiquity, beginning with Hippocrates, applied the term ileus to pathologic conditions in the abdomen characterized by meteorism, pain, vomiting of bilious feculent matter and interference with the passage of feces and flatus. The essential cause was believed to be inflammation of the intestine or of the peritoneum and "ex inflammatione resiccatur intestinum et constipatur ut neque flatum neque alimenta transmuttat. Venter durus fit et vomit interdum imprimis quidum pituitosa deinde vero biliosa, tandem etiam stercus."1 According to Galen, inflammation produces a cessation of peristalsis, absolute constipation, or antiperistalsis with vomiting of fecal matter, or in brief, the disease called ileus. All through the middle ages the influence of the teaching of Hippocrates and Galen remained dominant. With the development of the anatomic school in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the more careful postmortem examinations, varying anatomic conditions were recognized as the