What is the Ileocecal Valve?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2018
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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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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