Treatment of intussusception typically happens as a medical emergency. Emergency medical care is required to avoid severe dehydration and shock, as well as prevent infection that can occur when a portion of intestine dies due to lack of blood.

Initial care

When your child arrives at the hospital, the doctors will first stabilize his or her medical condition. This includes:

  • Giving your child fluids through an intravenous (IV) line
  • Helping the intestines decompress by putting a tube through the child's nose and into the stomach (nasogastric tube)

Correcting the intussusception

To treat the problem, your doctor may recommend:

  • A barium or air enema. This is both a diagnostic procedure and a treatment. If an enema works, further treatment is usually not necessary. This treatment is highly effective in children, but rarely used in adults.

    Intussusception recurs as often as 10 percent of the time and the treatment will have to be repeated.

  • Surgery. If the intestine is torn, if an enema is unsuccessful in correcting the problem or if a lead point is the cause, surgery is necessary. The surgeon will free the portion of the intestine that is trapped, clear the obstruction and, if necessary, remove any of the intestinal tissue that has died. Surgery is the main treatment for adults and for people who are acutely ill.

In some cases, intussusception may be temporary and go away without treatment.

Dec. 19, 2015
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