The use of neostigmine to treat postoperative ileus in orthopedic spinal patients

P. L. Althausen, M. C. Gupta, D. R. Benson, D. A. Jones

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26 Scopus citations


Ileus is a common complication of spinal surgery, affecting 5% to 12% of all patients. Often this ileus is secondary to acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. This study is a prospective clinical trial of neostigmine in seven spinal patients with ileus after surgery to demonstrate its efficacy. All patients had evidence of the Ogilvie syndrome that was unresponsive to 24 hours of conservative therapy. Patients received 2 mg neostigmine, and abdominal circumference, clinical response, and radiographic colonic measurements were recorded. Patients were followed for recurrence of ileus for their remaining time in the hospital. Six patients had prompt colonic decompression, and no patient had recurrence of colonic distension. Side effects were minimal. These results suggest that postoperative spinal patients with ileus secondary to acute colonic pseudo-obstruction that is unresponsive to conservative therapy benefit from treatment with neostigmine, resulting in safe, rapid decompression of the colon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-545
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 22 2001


  • Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction
  • Neostigmine
  • Ogilvie syndrome
  • Postoperative ileus
  • Spinal surgery


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