Signs of Intussusception in children

Intussusception is a serious medical condition in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine and results in a blockage of the food and/or fluid trying to pass through. It also cuts off the blood supply to the part of the intestine that is affected, which can lead to a perforation (tear) in the bowel, infection, and death of bowel tissue.


Unfortunately, intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children under the age of 3 and, in the vast majority of cases, the cause is unknown. Although, because it seems to occur more in the fall and winter and because many children suffering from intussusception also have flu-like symptoms, some suspect that a virus may play a role in it. Nonetheless, it is a serious condition that requires immediate attention so it’s important to know what symptoms to look more.


The first sign of intussusception in an otherwise healthy child may be severe abdominal pain that results in sudden, loud crying, while the infant’s knees are pulled to the chest. At first, the pain comes and goes, usually every 15 to 20 minutes but, as time passes, these painful episodes intensify in both severity and duration. Other frequent signs include – stool mixed with blood and mucus, vomiting, a lump in the abdomen, lethargy, diarrhea, and fever.


Fortunately, if caught in time, a child’s intestine can usually be pushed back into position but, if left untreated, it can be potentially life-threatening. If untreated, the lack of blood causes the tissue of the intestinal wall to die, and tissue death can result in perforation of the intestinal wall, which can cause an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis) – a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize potential signs and symptoms of intussusception, especially for parents of newborns, so that treatment can be initiated immediately and further problems/complications prevented.

Post by Whit Long

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