Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction (CIPO) is so named because X-rays show what looks like a small bowel obstruction which is not due to a physical blockage. Instead, the gut does not move because of the nerves or muscles do not function properly, thus called a "pseudo" obstruction. Due to this significant damage to the nerves or muscles of the small bowel, the intestine loses its ability to contract and push food and air through the digestive tract. Often the cause is unknown but risk factors include having other nervous system or autoimmune disorders, being bedridden or use of narcotic pain medications.
Symptoms range from slow motility, which causes symptoms like constipation, bloating and abdominal pain, to diarrhea. Diarrhea is more likely to occur if there is also bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel.
Current treatments include prokinetic drugs to increase the motility of the small bowel and antibiotics if bacterial overgrowth is found.
Read more about motility disorders of the small intestine here.