Intussusception means that one part of the intestine has folded into itself, like a telescope. This can happen anywhere along the intestinal tract. It usually happens between the lower part of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine.
The part of the intestine that folds inward may lose some or all of its blood supply. This section of the intestine becomes swollen and painful. Intussusception needs to be treated right away. If not treated, it can cause life-threatening problems, such as an infection (peritonitis) or a hole or opening (perforation) in the intestine.
The problem usually happens in young children.
Symptoms usually begin suddenly. Your child may:
If your child has symptoms of intussusception, call your doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your child's health history and symptoms and will do an exam. Intussusception can be hard to diagnose, because symptoms may come and go.
Intussusception needs to be treated in the hospital. Treatment works best if it begins within 24 hours after the start of symptoms. Most of the time, intussusception is treated with an enema. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
If a large part of the intestine is removed during surgery, your child may need an ileostomy for a short time. This is an opening in which waste leaves the intestine and collects in an odor-proof plastic pouch fastened to the skin.
Talk with your doctor about how to care for your child at home. If your child had an enema to treat intussusception, watch for signs that the problem has come back. The symptoms are likely to be the same as the first time.
After surgery, watch for problems such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and fever. Take care of your child's incision. It may need to be cleaned or checked for infection.
Learning about intussusception:
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|National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse|
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|Bethesda, MD 20892-3570|
This clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clearinghouse answers questions; develops, reviews, and sends out publications; and coordinates information resources about digestive diseases. Publications produced by the clearinghouse are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
- Kaiser AD, et al. (2007). Current success in the treatment of intussusception in children. Surgery, 42(4): 469–477.
Other Works Consulted
- Chu A, et al. (2011). Ileus, adhesions, intussusception, and closed-loop obstructions. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 1287–1291. Philadelphia: Saunders.
- Densmore JC, Lal DR (2011). Intussusception. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1428–1429. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Hackam DJ, et al. (2010). Intussusception section of Pediatric surgery. In FC Brunicardi et al., eds., Schwartz's Principles of Surgery, 9th ed., pp. 1433–1434. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Justice FA, et al. (2006). Intussusception: Trends in clinical presentation and management. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 21(5): 842–846.
- Kharbanda AB, Sawaya RD (2011). Acute abdominal pain in children. In JE Tintinalli, ed., Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7th ed., pp. 839–848. New York: McGraw-Hill.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Brad W. Warner, MD - Pediatric Surgery|
|Last Revised||April 13, 2012|
Last Revised: April 13, 2012
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