Randomised clinical trial: the efficacy of prucalopride in patients with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction – a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over, multiplen= 1 study

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Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2012; 35: 48–55


Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a disabling condition for which there are no established drug therapies. The condition is caused by a diverse range of intestinal myopathies and neuropathies.


To assess the therapeutic efficacy of prucalopride, a selective high-affinity 5-HT4 receptor agonist, we employed a multiple n = 1 study design. Each patient acted as his/her own control, each day counting as one treatment episode, allowing comparison of 168 days on each of active drug and placebo.


Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial of four 12-week treatment periods, with 2–4 mg prucalopride or placebo daily. In each of the first and second 6 months there was a prucalopride and a placebo treatment. Patients with proven chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, including dilated gut, were included. Evaluation was by patient diary and global evaluation.


Seven patients participated (mean 42 years, five female, median symptom duration 11 years). Three discontinued, two due to study length, and one on prucalopride due to unrelated malnutrition and bronchopneumonia. Four patients (three visceral myopathy and one visceral neuropathy) completed the study; prucalopride significantly improved pain in three of four patients, nausea in two, vomiting in one, bloating in four and analgesic intake. Bowel function was not changed substantially.


n = 1 studies in rare conditions allow drug efficacy assessment. Prucalopride relieves symptoms in selected patients with chronic pseudo-obstruction.

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