Intussusception in Children

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Intussusception is a condition where one segment of the intestine slides into the adjacent segment causing obstruction, swelling and inflammation. Intussusception can occur in both adults and children, but it is more common in children (especially below the age of 3 years).

The exact cause for intussusception is not known. However, in some cases, it is thought to happen due to viral infections, tumor or polyp in the intestine. Intestinal developmental defects present at birth and history of intussusception in the past increase the chances of developing intussusception.

Intussusception in Children

Boys are more commonly affected in comparison to girls. Children above 5 months of age and below one year are commonly affected. However, it can affect older children and even adults.

The most common site for intussusception is the area where small intestine meets the large intestine (ileo-colic region).

With intussusception, blood supply to the affected part of the intestine gets reduced or disrupted. This leads to swelling in that area and intestinal obstruction. If the blood supply to the affected part is considerably low, there is a chance of tissue death, bleeding and rupture of the intestine. This in turn can cause infection in the abdominal cavity and lead to sepsis and shock.

Intussusception is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical assistance to prevent major complications like gangrene (death of intestinal tissue) of the intestine, peritonitis, sepsis and shock. Usually, if treatment given within 24 hours of onset of intussusception, chances of developing complications are low.

Signs and Symptoms of Intussusception in a Child

Symptoms of Intussusception in a Child:

Sudden severe colicky abdominal pain alternating with periods of no pain. As the condition progresses, further pain only becomes stronger and intense. The baby pulls the knees to the chest during episodes of pain

Intussusception in Children: Symptoms

Bilious vomiting
Blood and mucus in the stools; the stools are described as currant jelly stools

Signs of Intussusception in a Child:

Abdominal swelling
Swelling in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen

Intussusception in Children: Signs

Late Complications related to Intussusception in a Child:

Death of intestinal tissue
Severe bleeding in the abdomen


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