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To review the literature on the safety and effectiveness of neostigmine for the treatment of postoperative acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. The MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases from November 1969 to November 2011 were queried for articles published in English, using the search terms neostigmine, acute colonic pseudo-obstruction, postoperative, surgery, and Ogilvie syndrome. All relevant original studies, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, guidelines, and review articles were assessed for inclusion. References from pertinent articles were examined for additional content not found during the initial search. Neostigmine may provide an effective treatment option for postoperative acute colonic pseudo-obstruction (ACPO) after conservative treatment measures have failed. One randomized controlled trial, 8 prospective and 3 retrospective observational studies, and 9 case reports evaluated neostigmine for ACPO. Included studies were limited by small sample sizes and heterogeneous populations not focused on postoperative patients, use of adjuvant agents, and lack of a consistent neostigmine regimen. Neostigmine may be a safe and effective treatment option for postoperative ACPO; however, current data do not support its use as a first-line intervention. Prospective and retrospective studies have demonstrated improvement in clinical symptoms, reduction in time to resolution, and reduction of recurrence for patients who failed conservative management. Prospective clinical trial data that evaluate early neostigmine versus conservative management are critically needed to determine neostigmine's role as a first-line therapy for ACPO.


Jamie L Elsner, Janessa M Smith, Christopher R Ensor. Intravenous neostigmine for postoperative acute colonic pseudo-obstruction. The Annals of pharmacotherapy. 2012 Mar;46(3):430-5

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PMID: 22388328

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