Management strategies for functional intestinal obstruction of prematurity


  • Olugbenga Awolaran Department of Paediatric Surgery, Royal Alexandra Childrens Hospital, Brighton
  • Jigna Sheth Department of Paediatric Surgery, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton, United Kingdom



Functional intestinal obstruction, Premature infants, Management


Functional intestinal obstruction of prematurity (FIOP) is characterised by a partial or complete failure of meconium evacuation due to hypomotility of the immature bowel and this presents with features of intestinal obstruction typically within the first 2 weeks of life. It contributes significantly to the morbidity and mortality of extremely and very low birth weight preterm infants. This disorder has been described using many terminologies and there is controversy amidst clinicians as to the optimal approach to its management.

This review summarises the characteristic clinical and radiologic findings to aid timely diagnosis and initiation of prompt treatment. Available evidence on different treatment options and their limitations is reviewed and practical stepwise management is described. In most cases, FIOP can be successfully managed conservatively with proactive management and monitoring.

Overall outcomes are favourable and normal long-term gastrointestinal function is commonly experienced. Evidence for investigations to exclude cystic fibrosis and Hirschsprung’s disease in preterm infants with FIOP is evaluated and a link with focal intestinal perforation is highlighted.


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How to Cite

Awolaran O, Sheth J. Management strategies for functional intestinal obstruction of prematurity. J Neonatal Surg [Internet]. 2021Feb.20 [cited 2024Jun.19];10:12. Available from: