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Surgery. 1987 Oct;102(4):704-10.

Intussusception: current management in infants and children.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis.


Intussusception remains a leading cause of bowel obstruction in early infancy and childhood. From 1970 to 1985, 83 patients with intussusception were treated. There were 51 boys and 32 girls ranging in age from 2 months to 22 years. Ten patients had a total of 14 separate recurrences; nine occurred during the initial hospitalization. Symptoms on presentation included abdominal pain (80%), palpable mass (60%), rectal bleeding (53%), and lethargy or sepsis (45%). Fifteen children underwent exploration without contrast studies based on duration of symptoms (greater than 5 days) and evidence of severe obstruction on plain abdominal x-ray films. In the remaining children, diagnosis was confirmed by barium enema and hydrostatic reduction was achieved in only 34 patients (42% success rate). Symptoms were present more than 48 hours in 55% of the reduction failures. At operation, five children had spontaneously reduced and an appendectomy was performed. Manual reduction was possible in 32 patients. The intussusception was irreducible in 26 patients, and 18 required temporary stomas. Pathologic lead points were found in 11 patients. Average length of hospitalization was 1.5 days after barium enema reduction, 9.6 days after manual reduction, and 13.8 days after bowel resection. There were no recurrences of intussusception after surgical reduction. A significant morbidity rate was observed with a delay in diagnosis. Adequate preoperative preparation and prompt surgical intervention are associated with 100% survival.

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