Acute Colonic Pseudo-Obstruction (ACPO) is also known as "Ogilvie's Syndrome." It is a rare condition in which the colon is acutely dilated and the abdomen distended as a result, without there being an obstruction present. (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/432871).
Acute colonic pseudo-obstruction was first identified and described in 1948, by Dr. Ogilvie, who noted this condition among cancer patients. This condition is associated with underlying medical conditions in 95 percent of cases and affects the cecum and right colon, possibly leading to perforation if not treated early on. (http://www.medbc.com/annals/review/vol_12/num_2/text/vol12n2p88.htm)
Many elderly people and patients who have undergone surgery suffer from this condition. The most important first step of treatment is to get the proper diagnosis and then to obtain colonic decompression, followed by medication to maintain the decompressed state (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19224517).
Controlled clinical trials have shown that the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor neostigmine is an effective treatment, and other drugs are currently being tested to determine their effectiveness in treating this condition.
The frequency in women as compared to men has not been determined, nor has the exact frequency in the overall population. Some of the symptoms include nausea and vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. The distended abdomen is universally present in all cases.
Much research still needs to be done on this condition as it is still far from being completely understood. Early treatment seems to play a tremendous role in relieving the discomforts associated with it and in avoiding the potentially severe health impact of this condition.
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Aimee Boyle is a freelance writer and teacher in CT.