5 Intussusception Alert in Children

Babies often become restless while playing and they start vomiting and have stomachache and your baby may vomit immediately after being given something to eat. Your baby may have intussusception at such time. It is very important to consult your paediatrician in such emergency.

So, in this article, lets learn about the complete information about intussusception. So that you understand what to do in such an emergency situation.

What is intussusception?

Intussusception is a serious intestinal disease. In this disease, the small intestine enters into the large intestine, so the intestines become obstructed in that part and the digested food cannot move forward. Blood supply to the small intestine begins to shut off as the small intestine enters into the large intestine.

If the small intestine stays stuck for too long, its blood supply will be cut off and that part will begin to develop gangrene. When gangrene develops, such intussusception is a kind of emergency. In such situation, timely treatment is necessary to save the life of baby.

It is very much common in children to suffer from intussusception between the age of three months to three years. It is less common in newborns and can occur in older children as well as in adults. It can occur in two to three children per thousand children.

Intussusception is four times more common in boys than girls.

What causes intussusception?

The reason for the intussusception is not clear. In some children, intussusception is more likely to occur if someone in the family has had the same problem before.

Sometime children

  •     May be infected with the virus
  •     A tumor may have formed in the intestine
  •     The appendix may be infected
  •     If There will be a disease called cystic fibrosis in baby

In such case intussusception can occur.

What are the symptoms of intussusception?

It is very important to know the symptoms of intussusception because if the parents notice the symptoms and the parents should consult a doctor immediately, the diagnosis is made early and timely treatment avoids the risk of death of the baby.

Every baby’s symptoms may be different but the most common is

  •     Suddenly starting to cry loudly while playing.
  •     Suddenly there is a lot of stomach pain.

The baby is calm and playing before these symptoms appear.

  •     Frequent vomitting

Babies start vomiting because of an obstruction in the intestines. The baby vomits even after being given something to eat by mouth, as it is not digested. Occasionally there may be green vomiting.

  •     Fever

Obstruction of the intestines leads to infection in that area and frequent vomiting causes dehydration of the baby, leading to fever.

  •     Baby become lethargic

Frequent vomiting causes the baby to lose salt and water from the body, leaving the baby tired and lethargic.

  •     Bleeding in poo

There is a small amount of bleeding in the intestines, which causes blood to appear in the baby’s poo which looks like red current jelly.

  •     Distension of the abdomen

An obstruction in the intestines causes swelling to appear on your baby’s abdomen.

The most serious symptoms are lethargy, bleeding in the poo, and distension of the abdomen. If you find such symptoms in your child then you must consult your pediatrician immediately.

How intussusception is diagnosed?

Since intussusception is a serious illness and there is  a risk to the baby’s life, it needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible.

The doctor first diagnoses intussusception in the baby based on the symptoms reported by the parents and the examination of the baby. The following types of tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis.

  •   Blood test

Is there a bacterial infection in the blood? A blood test is done to check this. Also electrolyte imbalance is also tested from blood.

  •   X-ray of the abdomen

Is there an obstruction in the intestine? This doctor will able to understand with the help of x ray of the abdomen.

  •   Abdominal sonography

Abdominal sonography reveals where the bowel is obstructed.

  •   Barium enema

Barium enemas are also used for their diagnosis and treatment, but if the baby has an intestinal infection, barium enemas can be dangerous at such time.

How intussusception is treated in children?

Treatment of intussusception in young children depends on the present situation of the patient. The most important thing in this treatment is to get rid of the intestinal obstruction. This can be done in two ways.

Saline Enema Treatment of Intussusception – Hydrostatic Reduction of Intussusception

If the baby’s condition is not serious and parents consulted immediately then the surgeon will insert a tube through the baby’s gut from anus and give a saline enema. This starts to increase the pressure on the small intestine, which is trapped in the large intestine and it gets released from the large intestine.

This process is called hydrostatic reduction of intussusception. Once small intestine gets out of large intestine, intussusception is likely to occur again in the next twenty-four hours.

If the baby stays healthy for the next 24 hours and his/her sonography repeated and if it returns to be normal, he will be discharged from the hospital.

By Operation – Intussusception Laparotomy Surgery

If saline enema does not reduce intussusception or the intestines have been trapped for a long time, laparotomy or an open surgery is done to remove that obstructed intestine.

This operation involves opening the abdomen to find out where the intestines are obstructed in the abdomen and separate the obstructed intestines from each other.

If part of the intestine is gangrenous, it is removed and part of the intestines are sutured together.

As the baby’s digestion continues, the baby’s stool go through operated area and after a few days as the small intestine is reconnected to the large intestine so that the baby’s stool comes out of the anus again.

The above operation is an emergency as the baby’s life is in danger and the baby has to go hungry before this operation. Therefore, he is given IV Fluids and this operation is done under general anaesthesia.

Even after the operation, the baby is fasted for three to four days depending on the condition of the baby. For this, the baby is given IV fluids according to his weight for every 24 hours so that the baby does not become lethargic.

Antibiotic injections and pain killers are also used to reduce stomach infections. A tube is inserted through the baby’s nose until the baby’s intestines begin to work and the stitches are healed properly so that bile from the stomach do not get aspirated in the chest.

The baby has to be hospitalized for at least five days after the operation.

What are the complications of intussusception?

Intussusception is an emergency, in which the baby’s life is in danger. The following complications occur in intussusception.

1. Intestinal infections(Sepsis)

2. Intestinal Perforation

3. Intestinal perforation spreads infection throughout the stomach. (Peritonitis)

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a baby look like in intussusception?

If your child pass a poo like a red current jelley then you must have to consult your paediatrician immediately as it may be intussusception.

Does intussusception get cured its own ?

If treated in time, the disease can be cured without surgery. But if the bowel has been trapped for a long time, then an operation has to be done by opening the stomach which is called laparotomy surgery.

What should be the baby’s diet after the operation?

The baby should be fed regularly after the operation. There is no diet restriction after surgery.

Why timely treatment for intussusception is important?

The longer we wait for treatment, the greater the risk to the baby’s life and the inability to remove the obstructed bowel even without surgery, so parents need to consult a pediatrician if the child has symptoms.

Does it heal without an operation?

This is often called as intermittent intussusception, which can be cured without surgery.

Parents should understand the seriousness of the illness and smart parents and timely diagnosis and treatment saves babies mobidity as well as mortality.

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Dr Nikhil Rane is Consultant pediatrician and neonatologist. He likes to provide proper care for children health. He is blogger since last 7 years

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