What is the Ileocecal Valve?

J.M. Willhite

The ileocecal valve is a sphincter muscle that allows for the passage of digested food through the gastrointestinal tract. When the ileocecal valve's function is impaired, potentially dangerous conditions can arise. A colonoscopy is frequently utilized to determine the cause of disturbances associated with this valve and digestive system. Depending on test findings treatment can include simple changes to lifestyle and diet, the administration of antibiotic or other medications, and, in some cases, surgery.

The ileocecal valve is located between the small and large intestine.
The ileocecal valve is located between the small and large intestine.

Located between the small and large intestine, the ileocecal valve keeps waste materials from backing up and accumulating in the small intestine. A condition known as ileocecal valve syndrome (ICV) occurs when the ileocecal valve is not working properly and either remains closed or open. The closure of the valve results in the prevention of wastes from entering the large intestine. When the valve remains open, waste substances accumulate in the small intestine which creates a toxic blockage. Either situation, if left untreated, can disrupt digestion and result in the accumulation and absorption of toxins by the body which can be fatal.

The ileocecal valve keeps waste materials from backing up and accumulating in the small intestine.
The ileocecal valve keeps waste materials from backing up and accumulating in the small intestine.

A number of factors can contribute to the development of ileocecal valve syndrome. Individuals who have unhealthy eating habits or suffer from dehydration can become symptomatic. Nerve pressure localized in upper lumbar spine, or lower back, has been found to contribute to the development of valve issues. Symptoms include lower back pain, nausea, and bowel disturbance. Treatments include dietary changes, applied kinesiology, and chiropractic adjustments.

Lower back pain is one symptom of ileocecal valve problems.
Lower back pain is one symptom of ileocecal valve problems.

When unexplained disturbances within the digestive system occur a colonoscopy is frequently employed. If an individual suffers from issues such as an anemia of unknown origin, is experiencing bloody stools, or suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a colonoscopy may be helpful in uncovering the source of the problem. Abnormal results from a colonoscopy can indicate intestinal inflammation, infection, the presence of polyps, or a tumor. Conducted as an outpatient procedure, a colonoscopy requires that the bowel is cleansed and emptied prior to testing.

Symptoms of ileocecal valve syndrome may include nausea.
Symptoms of ileocecal valve syndrome may include nausea.

In a colonoscopy, the patient is given a pain reliever and mild sedative. Lying on his or her left side, a colonoscope, a flexible tube outfitted with a small camera, is introduced into the anus and progresses toward the lowest part of the small intestine, where the valve is located. Air is administered through the tube in order to obtain better images of the area. During the test, samples of lymphatic tissue may be taken, known as a biopsy, and existing polyps removed. Risks associated with a colonoscopy include infection, nausea, and bleeding at the biopsy site.

A pathologist looks at the biopsied sample under a microscope to diagnose the infectious agents at work.
A pathologist looks at the biopsied sample under a microscope to diagnose the infectious agents at work.
Unhealthy eating habits can contribute to ileocecal valve syndrome.
Unhealthy eating habits can contribute to ileocecal valve syndrome.
Chiropractic adjustments may be used to address issues with the ileocecal valve.
Chiropractic adjustments may be used to address issues with the ileocecal valve.

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