Intussusception is a rare but serious disorder in which part of the intestine; either the small intestine or colon slides into another part of the intestine. This “telescoping” often blocks the intestine, preventing food or fluid from passing through. Intussusception also cuts off the blood supply to the part of the intestine that’s affected. Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction among infants. In contrast, most cases in children have no known cause.
Signs & Symptoms
Intussusception requires emergency medical care. If your child develops the following signs or symptoms, seek medical help right away:
- Severe abdominal pain that comes and goes (intermittent pain)
- Stool mixed with blood and mucus
- A lump in the abdomen
- Swollen (distended) abdomen
For most cases of intussusception in children, the cause is unknown. Viral infection or a growth in the intestine, such as a polyp, lymph node or tumor, may trigger it. In the past, some cases of intussusception seemed to be associated with a version of the rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus is a childhood illness that causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever and dehydration. That vaccine was removed from the market in 1999. There’s no evidence that the rotavirus vaccine currently available (RotaTeq) causes intussusception. On February 13, 2007 the U.S. government issued a warning that RotaTeq can cause intussusception in infants.
Your infant’s physician may recommend several test, including the following:
- X-ray or other abdominal imaging. Taking images of your child’s abdomen with X-ray, ultrasound or computerized tomography (CT) scans may reveal intestinal obstruction caused by intussusception. Abdominal imaging also can show if the intestine has been torn (perforated).
- Barium or air enema. A barium enema is basically a colon X-ray. During the exam, the doctor will insert liquid barium or in some cases air into your child’s colon through the rectum. This makes the pictures on the X-ray clearer. Sometimes a barium or air enema will correct intussusception, and no further treatment is needed. A barium enema can’t be used if the intestine is torn.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Intussusception
If your infant developed intussusception after being given the vaccine RotaTeq, please fill out the form at the right for a free case review by a qualified defective drugs attorney or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).