Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Intussusception
that one part of the
intestine has folded into itself, like a telescope.
This can happen anywhere along the intestinal tract. It usually happens between
the lower part of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine.
The part of the intestine
that folds inward may lose some or all of its blood supply. This section of the
intestine becomes swollen and painful. Intussusception needs to be treated right away. If not treated, it can cause life-threatening problems, such as an infection (peritonitis) or a hole or opening (perforation) in the intestine.
The problem usually happens in young children.
The cause of
intussusception in children isn't known in most cases. Sometimes it happens
after a child has a cold or has
inflammation in the stomach and intestines.
Symptoms usually begin
suddenly. Your child may:
Your child may be getting worse if he or she has breathing problems or a fever or is dehydrated.
If your child has symptoms of intussusception, call your
doctor right away.
The doctor will
ask about your child's health history and symptoms and will do an exam.
Intussusception can be hard to diagnose, because symptoms may come and
Your child may need an
X-ray, an ultrasound, an enema, or other tests to confirm
whether he or she has intussusception.
Intussusception needs to be
treated in the hospital. Treatment works best if it begins within 24 hours after the start of symptoms. Most of the time, intussusception is treated with an enema. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
If a large part of the intestine is removed during surgery, your child may need an ileostomy for a short time. This is an opening in which waste leaves the intestine and collects in an odor-proof plastic pouch fastened to the skin.
Talk with your doctor about how to care for your child at home. If your child had an enema to treat intussusception, watch for signs that the problem has come back. The symptoms are likely to be the same as the first time.
After surgery, watch for problems such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and fever. Take care of your child's incision. It may need to be cleaned or checked for infection.
Learning about intussusception:
Kaiser AD, et al. (2007). Current success in the treatment of intussusception in children. Surgery, 42(4): 469–477.
Other Works Consulted
Chu A, et al. (2011). Ileus, adhesions, intussusception, and closed-loop obstructions. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 1287–1291. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Densmore JC, Lal DR (2011). Intussusception. In CD Rudolph et al., eds., Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1428–1429. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hackam DJ, et al. (2015). Pediatric surgery. In FC Brunicardi et al., eds., Schwartz's Principles of Surgery, 10th ed., pp. 1597–1649. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Justice FA, et al. (2006). Intussusception: Trends in clinical presentation and management. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 21(5): 842–846.
Kharbanda AB, Sawaya RD (2011). Acute abdominal pain in children. In JE Tintinalli, ed., Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7th ed., pp. 839–848. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerBrad W. Warner, MD - Pediatric Surgery
Current as ofJuly 26, 2016
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Brad W. Warner, MD - Pediatric Surgery
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.