Epidural for Ogilvie's Syndrome

  • End date
    Aug 31, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    McMaster University
Updated on 16 September 2021


Epidural anesthesia may represent a safe and effective pharmacological tool in the management of Ogilvie's Syndrome. This pilot study aims to demonstrate feasibility, safety, and efficacy of epidural anesthesia to set the stage for adequately powered future randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in order to assess the efficacy of epidural anesthetic as a pharmacological treatment strategy for Ogilvie's Syndrome. Ultimately, this research may prompt further investigation and establish standardized criteria for managing Ogilvie's Syndrome patients with epidural anesthesia.


Currently, treatment pathways for Ogilvie's Syndrome suggest observation and attempted correction of the potential precipitating factors for 24 to 72 hours following radiologic assessment if the cecum is less than 12cm and abdominal imaging does not demonstrate signs of impending perforation. Should symptoms fail to resolve beyond 72 hours, and the cecum remain under 12cm without worsening clinical status, pharmacologic intervention with neostigmine is indicated. Symptoms resolve in 60% to 90% of patients following administration of single dose of neostigmine, however continued monitoring is required as up to 40% of these patients can experience recurrent colonic dilation. Additionally, neostigmine can be associated with serious adverse events such as bradycardia and bronchospasm. Altogether, there may be potential for further optimization of the pharmacologic management of Ogilvie's Syndrome.

Given the predominant theory that Ogilvie's Syndrome is caused by sympathetic overdrive, the splanchnic sympathetic blockade provided by epidural anesthesia could be of theoretical benefit. In 1988, a small, prospective cohort study evaluated the use of epidural anesthesia in eight patients with Ogilvie's Syndrome. Symptoms were controlled and cecal dilation resolved without recurrence in 62.5% of these patients, and the authors concluded that with further study, the use of epidural anesthesia could be a reasonable alternative to neostigmine. Yet, no subsequent studies were performed.

This proposed single-arm, single-center prospective cohort pilot study will examine the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of epidural anesthesia in patients with Ogilvie's Syndrome refractory to conservative management. Adult patients with a documented diagnosis of Ogilvie's Syndrome admitted as an inpatient to St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) who failed conservative management will be included. Following assessment of eligibility and the informed consent process, patients will be evaluated by the acute pain service anesthesiologist. A low-dose bupivacaine (0.25%) infusion will commence following insertion of an epidural catheter at the T11-12 interspace, with a loading dose of 5-10mL followed by a 3mL per hour infusion. Monitoring for resolution of disease will take place iteratively by the general surgery team, and failed symptom resolution will mandate further treatment in the form of colonoscopic decompression or surgical intervention. Patients will be followed throughout their index hospital and stay and up to 30 days following discharge from hospital. Feasibility will be assessed through recruitment rate and rate of successful epidural placement. The rate of epidural anesthesia-related morbidity within 30 days of treatment will serve as the primary safety measure. The primary efficacy measure is clinical and radiologic resolution without recurrence.

Condition Ogilvie's syndrome
Treatment epidural anesthesia
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04600427
SponsorMcMaster University
Last Modified on16 September 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

>18 years old
Admitted to an inpatient ward at SJHH with a documented diagnosis of Ogilvie's Syndrome/Acute Colonic Pseudo-Obstruction
Failed conservative management for at least 24-48 hours

Exclusion Criteria

Hemodynamic instability
Peritonitis on abdominal examination
Cecal diameter greater than 12cm or evidence of hollow viscus perforation on abdominal imaging (e.g. bowel wall thickening, mesenteric stranding, hypoenhancement of bowel wall)
Documented allergic reaction to anesthetic agent
Local soft tissue infection at the puncture site
Coagulopathy or therapeutic anticoagulation
Intracranial pathology leading to increased intracranial pressure
Prior spinal surgery
Unstable severe respiratory or cardiovascular disease
Previously managed with epidural anesthesia for Ogilvie's Syndrome
Inability/unwilling to consent to trial treatment
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