colic, intense pain caused by spasmodic contractions of one of the hollow organs, e.g., the stomach, intestine, gall bladder, ureter, or oviduct. The cause of colic is irritation and/or obstruction, and the irritant and/or obstruction may be a stone (as in the gall bladder or ureter), an irritant food or gas (in the stomach and intestines), appendicitis, or implantation of an embryo in an oviduct. Intestinal colic in infancy is sometimes attributed to gas formed by excessive swallowing of air or inadequate digestion of milk. Treatment of colic is relative to the cause.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.