Meconium ileus is a disorder that occurs in newborns in which the meconium, the neonate's first fecal excretion after birth, is abnormally thick and stringy, rather than the collection of mucus and bile that is normally passed.
Following abdominal surgery, uncomplicated cases of ileus can be managed by minimizing the amount of food the patient consumes, ensuring adequate fluid intake, and correcting any electrolyte disturbances such as low potassium.
In children with cystic fibrosis in which meconium ileus becomes evident soon after birth, the prognosis is linked with the primary disease; the median age of survival for cystic fibrosis patients is 30 years.
When a doctor listens with a stethoscope to the abdomen of a child suffering from ileus, there will be few or no bowel sounds, indicating that the intestine has stopped functioning.
A healthcare professional should be contacted if a child experiences persistent abdominal distention, is unable to have normal bowel movements, or exhibits other symptoms of ileus.
By contrast, non-mechanical obstruction, called ileus, occurs because the rhythmic contractions that move material through the bowel (called peristalsis) stop.
Ileus is most often associated with an infection of the peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdomen) or other intra-abdominal infections such as appendicitis.
Handling the bowel during abdominal surgery can also cause peristalsis to stop, so people who have had abdominal surgery are more likely to experience ileus.
Narcotics and certain chemotherapy drugs, such as vinblastine (Velban, Velsar) and vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar PES, Vincrex) can also cause ileus.
Meconium ileus in newborns is caused by increased viscosity of waste products in the intestinal tract, and is sometimes secondary to cystic fibrosis.