What is an intussusception?

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An intussusception is a serious condition in which one part of the intestine slides into another, like the pieces of a telescope. It is the most common abdominal emergency in children younger than 2, and usually occurs between the ages of six months and three years old (although it can happen with children as old as six years). If left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the intestines, intestinal infection and internal bleeding. It can be life-threatening.

In infants, symptoms of intussusception may include intense colic-like crying and drawing up of their knees from the pain. Other symptoms of intussusception may include:
  • swelling in the abdominal area
  • nausea and vomiting
  • vomiting bile (a yellow-green liquid)
  • stools with blood and mucus
  • fever
  • shock (pale color, lethargy, sweating)
Imaging tests including x-rays and ultrasounds can be used to diagnose intussusception. To treat intussusception, doctors may use an enema to push the intestine back in place or surgery to correct the problem.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.