Monday, February 1, 2010

What is Intussusception?

This is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction from 3 months of age to 6 years old. This usually involves the lower gastrointestinal tract resulting in a telescoping of the more proximal part into the distal portion of the gut. There is a male to female predominance as 4:1. As a pediatrician this is one of the differential diagnosis we think of once babies are inconsolable .

Signs and Symptoms:
  • sudden onset of severe paroxysmal colicky pain
  • infant looks normal in between episodes
  • this can be accompanied by straining and loud cries
  • if this is not reduced the infant will become progressively weak and lethargic
  • vomiting may occur early in the course
  • blood may start passing within the first 12 hours which is called the currant jelly stool because mucous and blood are intermixed together, but this might not occur in 1-2 days in some cases


The history and physical is usually sufficient to diagnose this entity. Plain abdominal x-ray maybe warranted to show signs of obstruction. Barium enema will show a filling defect resulting from the obstruction.

Differential Diagnosis:

It is particularly difficult to sometimes differentiate this from gastroenteritis. Meckel's diverticulm is usually painless with bloody stools. The bloody stools from Henoch-Schonlein Purpura usually have joint pains.


This is considered an emergency procedure once diagnosis is certain and if there are no signs of shock or dehydration reduction by using an air enema is thetreatment of choice if not exploratory laparotomy with manual reduction by the surgeon is indicated.

1 comment:

kaney said...

Noninfectious inflammatory intestinal disease is distinguished from infectious entities by exclusion: recurrent episodes of mucopurulent (ie, containing mucus and white cells) bloody diarrhea characterized by lack of good cultures for infectious organisms and failure to respond to antibiotics alone. Simply because inflammatory bowel illness is characterized by exacerbations and remissions, favorable responses to treatment are hard to distinguish from spontaneous remissions occurring as component from the organic background of the disease.

D3 5000