Intestinal Motility Disorders Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Sep 16, 2020
  • Author: Mia L Manabat, DO; Chief Editor: Burt Cagir, MD, FACS  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

Failure to make the correct diagnosis of an intestinal motility disorder is a medicolegal pitfall, especially in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because several cancers of the digestive tract mimic this condition, even in late stages.

The criteria for diagnosis of intestinal pseudo-obstruction should include definite symptoms and signs of obstruction, with documentation of an ileus or air-fluid levels on plain radiographs of the abdomen or a dilated duodenum, small intestine, or colon on barium radiographs. Although severe dysmotility may otherwise be present, the term pseudo-obstruction should not be used when these radiographic findings are absent.

In addition to the conditions listed in the differential diagnosis, other problems to be considered include the following:

  • Alcohol-related neuropathies

  • Electrolytic imbalance

  • Poisoning due to environmental agents

  • Maldigestion

Counseling with a neuropsychologist, evaluation by an endocrinologist, and research into toxins and drugs in the blood may be helpful for diagnosis.

Differential Diagnoses