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June 2000

Ogilvie Syndrome as a Postoperative Complication

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, The University of Kansas School of Medicine[[ndash]]Wichita.

Arch Surg. 2000;135(6):682-687. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.6.682

Hypothesis  Ogilvie syndrome is a postoperative complication.

Design  Case series.

Setting  University-affiliated tertiary-care hospital.

Patients and Methods  The medical records of patients diagnosed as having Ogilvie syndrome after trauma or operation between 1989 and 1998 were reviewed. Medical charts were examined for history, treatment, cecal diameter, and outcome.

Main Outcome Measures  Data were summarized in an attempt to identify patient populations at risk for Ogilvie syndrome.

Results  Ogilvie syndrome was diagnosed in 36 patients, 24 of whom were men. Average age at diagnosis was 68.9 years. Abdominal radiographs were obtained at time of diagnosis (mean cecal diameter, 13.4 cm; range, 8-20 cm). Operations preceding Ogilvie syndrome were orthopedic or spinal (n=14), cardiothoracic (n=12), abdominal (n=5), and vascular (n=2). Nonoperative trauma accounted for 3 cases. Coronary artery bypass grafting was the single most frequent procedure leading to Ogilvie syndrome (n=9 [25%]). Conservative treatment was successful in 52.8% of cases (n=19). Twenty colonoscopic decompressions were performed on 13 patients, with an overall success rate of 77% (n=10). Of the 3 patients in whom colonoscopic decompression failed, 2 died and 1 required operation. Five of the 36 patients required surgical intervention, with a mortality rate of 60% (n=3).

Conclusions  Previous studies have shown Ogilvie syndrome to occur most commonly after obstetrical/gynecologic, abdominal/pelvic, and orthopedic procedures. Our data confirm that patients undergoing orthopedic and spinal procedures are at higher risk, but that the surgical procedure most commonly leading to Ogilvie syndrome was coronary artery bypass grafting. Cardiothoracic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and neurosurgeons should be cognizant of this complication in the patient whose abdomen becomes distended postoperatively. If recognized early and treated appropriately, pseudo-obstruction will resolve in most patients. If surgical intervention is required, the subsequent mortality rate is high.