What is intussusception?
The intestine is a hollow tube, like a hose. In intussusception, a part of the intestine suddenly slides inside another part. The sliding blocks your intestine and stops blood flow.
Intussusception usually happens in children between 6 months and 3 years old.
In most cases, doctors don't know the cause of intussusception
Your child may have belly pain and throwing up that starts suddenly then comes and goes, each time lasting about 15 to 20 minutes, then returns to normal
Later, your child's stool may be bloody
Doctors use an air enema to find intussusception and also to treat it
Some children need surgery
Sometimes the intestine returns to normal without treatment
If the intussusception doesn’t return to normal, and blood flow is blocked for more than a few hours, part of the intestine may die, and small holes may develop. The holes let bacteria enter the belly area and can cause a serious infection.
What Is Intussusception?
One part of the intestine slides into another, much like the parts of a collapsible telescope. As a result, the intestine is blocked.
What causes intussusception?
Doctors don't know what causes intussusception in young children, but it’s the most common cause of intestinal blockage in children ages 6 months to 3 years.
When older children have intussusception, it's usually caused by a problem in the intestine, such as a polyp (small mass) or tumor.
What are the symptoms of intussusception?
Sudden belly pain in a child who seems otherwise healthy
The pain and throwing up last 15 to 20 minutes, go away, and come back. At first the child seems healthy between times of pain. Later symptoms may include:
Constant belly pain
Acting cranky and sluggish
Stool (poop) with blood and mucus—sometimes compared to red currant jelly
If the intestine is damaged, children may get a hole (perforation) in it. Children who have a hole in their intestines:
Have pain when someone touches their belly
How can doctors tell if my child has intussusception?
Doctors can sometimes feel intussusception as a sausage-shaped mass in your child's belly. To tell for sure, doctors usually:
How do doctors treat intussusception?
If the intussusception has caused a hole in the intestine:
Doctors do emergency surgery
If there's no hole, doctors treat intussusception using an air enema.
A doctor puts air into your child’s intestine through a small tube put in the child's rear end
The air pushes into the intestine and makes it unfold
The doctor then takes an x-ray to make sure the intestine is back to normal
Your child stays at the hospital overnight
Intussusception can come back in the next day or two after the procedure. If it comes back your child will need surgery to fix it.