What is opioid-induced constipation (OIC)?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is a common adverse effect of opioid use. An estimated 40%-80% of patients receiving long-term opioid therapy experience OIC, which can be severe enough to cause discontinuation of opioid therapy. The problem is caused by the binding of opioids to peripheral opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in absorption of electrolytes, such as chloride, with a subsequent reduction in small intestinal fluid. Activation of enteric opioid receptors also results in abnormal gastrointestinal motility.


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