When one appreciates the breadth of physiologic applicability of the problem of intestinal obstruction, one can understand why the disorder has occasioned such an extravagant number of theories, prolific writings and extensive investigations. Unfortunately, too many glamorous sophisms have been dogmatically attached to attempted solutions of the problems presented by the group of disorders listed under the heading of intestinal obstruction.
Too often the physician conceives of the problem of obstruction as applying only to an acute mechanical blockage of the lumen of the intestine. It seems safe to assume that paralytic ileus from many causes not connected with direct mechanical obstruction of the lumen of the intestine may frequently, in the end, cause death by exactly the same processes as direct blockage of the lumen. Perhaps this applies in at least some instances to death from ileus secondary to peritonitis—death that would not occur were it not for ileus.
DONALDSON JK, SIVE EB, LEWIS N. INTESTINAL OBSTRUCTION. Arch Surg. 1941;43(5):811–838. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1941.01210170078007