Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • CIIP
  • CIP
  • chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction
  • pseudo-obstruction syndrome

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIP) is a rare, potentially disabling gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abnormalities affecting the involuntary, coordinated muscular contractions (a process called peristalsis) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Peristalsis propels food and other material through the digestive system under the control of nerves, pacemaker cells and hormones. CIP usually results from abnormalities affecting the muscles or nerves that are involved in peristalsis. Consequently, peristalsis becomes altered and inefficient. The symptoms of CIP resemble those caused by mechanical obstruction of the small bowel. Mechanical obstruction refers to something (such as a tumor, scar tissue, etc.) physically blocking the passage of food and other material through the GI tract. In individuals with CIP no such physical obstruction is present, hence the term pseudo-obstruction. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling (distention) and constipation. Ultimately, normal nutritional requirements cannot be met leading to unintended weight loss and malnourishment. CIP can potentially cause severe, even life-threatening complications.

There is no agreed upon classification system for CIP and proposed classification systems tend to be complex and confusing. There are also many different causes of CIP, which only adds to the confusion. The unifying concept for CIP regardless of cause is an abnormality affecting the passage of food and other material through the digestive system (gastrointestinal motility). Generally, CIP is broken down into two main forms depending on whether the disorder involves the muscles (myopathic CIP) or nerves (neuropathic CIP) of the GI tract that are involved in peristalsis. Some researchers lump enteric dysmotility together with CIP. The prognosis of this separate yet similar condition is different from CIP. This report deals solely with the strict definition of CIP as a disorder that causes an "obstruction-like" picture.


Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders, Inc.
12 Roberts Drive
Bedford, MA 01730
Tel: (781)275-1300
Fax: (781)275-1304

Digestive Disease National Coalition
507 Capitol Court, NE
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20002
Tel: (202)544-7497
Fax: (202)546-7105

NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases
Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Bldg 31, Rm 9A06
31 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Tel: (301)496-3583

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
700 W. Virginia St., 201
Milwaukee, WI 53217
Tel: (414)964-1799
Fax: (414)964-7176
Tel: (888)964-2001

Bowel Group for Kids Inc.
PO Box 40
Oakdale, NSW, 2570
Tel: 02 4659 6067
Fax: 61 2 4659 6381

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223

3 St. Andrews Place
London, NW1 4LB
United Kingdom
Tel: 02074860341
Fax: 02072242012

Gastroparesis & Dysmotilities Association
5520 Dalhart Hill N.W.
Calgary, AB, T3A 1S9
Tel: 4032473215

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

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Last Updated:  1/5/2012
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