From a recent review:
Recent findings: Different ways to define gastrointestinal failure have been used in the past. Recently, the term ‘acute gastrointestinal injury (AGI)’ has been proposed to specifically describe gastrointestinal dysfunction as a part of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. Possible pathophysiological mechanisms and different aspects in assessment of gastrointestinal function in adult ICU patients are presented. Currently, there is no single marker that could reliably describe gastrointestinal dysfunction. Therefore, monitoring and management is still based on complex assessment of different gastrointestinal symptoms and feeding intolerance, even though this approach includes a large amount of subjectivity. The possible role of biomarkers (citrulline, enterohormones, etc.) and additional parameters like intra-abdominal pressure remains to be clarified.
Summary: Defining gastrointestinal failure remains challenging but broad consensus needs to be reached and disseminated soon to allow conduct of interventional studies. A systematic approach to management of gastrointestinal problems is recommended.