Intussusception (intestinal blockage) is a very serious condition in which a child’s bowel folds into itself causing a blockage or a tear to the intestine. When this condition is caught early, the prognosis is good. Left untreated however, the condition can be life threatening.
Intussusception is rare in children over 5 years of age. It usually occurs in children between 5 months and 3 years of age.
A child with intussusception will have extreme pain in the abdomen that comes in spasms. The will appear fine one minute and be in severe pain the next. There could also be blood or mucus in the child’s stool. They will appear sweaty and lethargic at first, and then be extremely dehydrated with sunken eyes, dry mouth, and minimal urination.
As this condition gets worse, the child’s belly will be hard and distended, and there may be a hard mass.
If your child has any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
The condition is diagnoses through a series of X-rays, ultrasound, and a CT scan. If the intestine does not show to have a tear, but is folded into itself, the doctors will usually try to move the intestine back into place. This is done with air or a barium enema during which your child is restrained. The procedure is uncomfortable, but can be life saving.
If it is not possible to get the intestine back to its position in this manner, surgery may be required. Many times a small piece of the intestine will be removed.
Your child will remain in the hospital for a few days after surgery because it is common for the blockage to reoccur. Once the doctors are certain that this won’t happen, and your child is eating and having bowel movements, they will be sent home.