Intussusception occurs in the area where the colon and small intestine connect – usually near the area of the septum in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. Intussusception is the invagination of the intestine into itself, similar to a folded sleeve or a telescope.
Intussusception can be a life-threatening condition.
Intussusception is most common between the ages of 3 months to 3 years. In 90% of cases, the cause of intussusception is unclear and the child is usually otherwise healthy. The child appears to have sudden stomach pain attacks. The child may also look a little green. Between attacks, the child will alter between periods of apathy, inertia, and exhaustion. There will also be watery stool and diarrhea. In some cases, the child will suffer from constipation.
Diagnosis and treatment of intussusception
Diagnosis and treatment are done with an enema. Air is pushed into the intestinal cavity via the anus. An x-ray will then show the shape of the intestine, and whether or not the child suffers from intussusception. The intestine also returns to normal with the help of the enema. Enemas have a 50%-85% success rate, depending on the amount of time passed since the intussusception, edema, and the length of the intussuscepted area. Another method of diagnosis includes using barium to determine intussusception. This method is popular nowadays.
If the amount of time that passed between the start of the intussusception and diagnosis is longer than 48 hours, an enema will not help the intestine return to its previous form. When this is the case, the doctor will refer your child for corrective surgery. The surgeons manually release the blockage. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and when it’s completed, it will be stitched and bandaged. You child may vomit a few times in the first couple hours following surgery.
Following surgery, your child will hooked to an IV. In addition the doctor may decide to prescribe antibiotics. It is normal that your child will experience pain, for which he will be given pain relievers. If the pain continues after the first couple days of surgery, let your doctor know. He may also have a fever for the first few days after the operation.
At home after the surgery
Your child will be discharged from the hospital after the doctor has monitored his recovery. It is important that you keep the area clean with soap and water, drying it carefully. If the scar area starts to swell or becomes red, see your doctor immediately. Your child should not sit in a bathtub for the first 6 days after surgery. Your child can return to preschool or school after his stitches are removed. It is important that your child avoid extraneous physical activity for a month following surgery.
Possible complications of intussusception repair surgery
Like every peritoneum-related surgery, there is a risk of adhesion formation, even many years later. Adhesions can causes blockages of the intestines, characterized by stomach pains and excessive vomiting.