Gastrointestinal Stasis

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Gastrointestinal stasis, GI stasis, GI hypomotility or ileus is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. The condition occurs when the gut stops moving, is blocked, or is full of gas.

Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite (anorexia) or changes in eating habits. A good way to test this is to offer fresh herbs or a favorite treat.
  • Small to no stool, loose or mucous covered stool or diarrhea.
  • Sitting in a hunched position or pressing stomach against the floor.
  • Loud tooth grinding which is an indication of pain. This is different than the "tooth purr" that indicates pleasure or contentment.
  • Loud GI sounds or complete silence in the stomach. You can use a stethoscope or listen with your ear pressed against the stomach.

Causes

  • Stress
  • Pain from an underlying condition (e.g. gas, dental problems, infections, or urinary tract disorders)
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Intestinal blockage

Diagnosis

Gastrointestinal stasis can be usually diagnosed as non-obstructive or obstructive ileus.

Non-obstructive Obstructive
Clinical Signs
  • Gradual onset (days to weeks).
  • Gradual reduction in fecal size and output.
  • Crave fiber.
  • Initially bright; gradual onset of depression and abdominal pain.
  • Mild to moderate dehydration.
  • Sudden onset (24-48 hours).
  • Fecal output stops abruptly.
  • Severe depression.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Reluctance to move.
  • Symptoms of shock.
  • Severe dehydration.
  • Death in 24-48 hours.
Radiographic findings
  • Compacted material in stomach and sometimes caecum, often with halo of gas.
  • As symptoms progress, entire GI tract gas-filled. Stomach usually last to bloat.
  • Fluid present only late in disease.
  • Fluid and gas present cranial to obstruction.
  • Bubbles of gas in stomach with no halo.
  • If cecal obstruction, fluid and bubbles of air in cecum.

From Emma Keeble, Anna Meredith, et al., Rabbit Medicine & Surgery, 2006.

Treatment

You should seek immediate veterinary assistance if your rabbit has not eaten or passed stools in the past 12 hours or is exhibiting other symptoms of GI stasis. Your vet will provide proper treatment and care. If left untreated, GI stasis can be fatal in 48 hours.

Below are links with more information about various treatments for GI stasis.

Further Reading

Here are some relevant Q&A's:

See Also

References