You are here

Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of distal intestinal obstruction syndrome in cystic fibrosis patients

Carla Colombo, Helmut Ellemunter, Roderick Houwen, Anne Munck, Chris Taylor, Michael Wilschanski on behalf of the ECFS


Complete or incomplete intestinal obstruction by viscid faecal material in the terminal ileum and proximal colon – distal intestinal obstruction syndrome (DIOS) – is a common complication in cystic fibrosis. Estimates of prevalence range from 5 to 12 episodes per 1000 patients per year in children, with higher rates reported in adults. DIOS is mainly seen in patients with pancreatic insufficiency, positive history of meconium ileus and previous episodes of DIOS. DIOS is being described with increasing frequency following organ transplantation. Diagnosis is based on suggestive symptoms with a right lower quadrant mass confirmed on X-ray. The main differential is chronic constipation. Treatment consists of rehydration combined with stool softening laxatives or gut lavage with balanced electrolyte solutions. Rapid fluid shifts have been described following osmotic agents. Avoiding dehydration and optimizing pancreatic enzyme dosage may reduce the chance of further episodes. Prophylactic laxative therapy is widely used, but is not evidence-based.

© 2011 European Cystic Fibrosis Society. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Intestinal obstruction; Diagnosis; Treatment

Search form


Sign up to the CF Resource Center e-mail alert and enter a raffle to win the Elsevier Text book “Clinical Respiratory Medicine”

Visit the Journal Website

What do you think?

Please take a moment to fill out our reader survey.

Read more