Gastrointestinal motility problems in critical care: A clinical perspective

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Advances in surgery, anesthesia and intensive care have led to a dramatic increase in the number of patients who spend time in our intensive care units (ICU). Gastrointestinal (GI) motility disorders are common complications in the intensive care setting and are predictors of increased mortality and length of the stay in the ICU. Several risk factors for developing GI motility problems in the ICU setting have been identified and include sepsis, being on mechanical ventilation and the use of vasopressors, opioids or anticholinergic medications. Our focus is on the most common clinical manifestations of GI motor dysfunction in the ICU patient: gastroesophageal reflux, gastroparesis, ileus and acute pseudo-obstruction of the colon.

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