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Pediatrics. 2011 Feb;127(2):e296-303. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2432. Epub 2011 Jan 17.

Risk stratification of children being evaluated for intussusception.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in young children, and delayed diagnosis may lead to bowel perforation.


To determine predictive clinical criteria and develop a decision tree to risk-stratify children with possible intussusception.


This is a prospective observational cohort study of children aged 1 month to 6 years who presented with possible intussusception. A data-collection form was completed before knowledge of any advanced imaging. Univariate analysis was performed, and decision trees were developed using recursive partitioning.


In the study, 310 patients were enrolled, including 38 (12.3%) with intussusception. The median age was 21.1 months and 61% were male. Univariate predictors of intussusception included age older than 6 months (P = 0.04), male gender (P = .007), history of lethargy (P = .001), and abnormal plain x-ray (P = .0001). Multivariate analysis through recursive partitioning identified decision trees (with and without the result of a plain abdominal x-ray) and allowed identification of patients at low risk. The decision tree based on the results of an abdominal x-ray (negative or positive), age (≤ 5 or >5 months), diarrhea (present or absent), and bilious emesis (present or absent) had the best test performance (sensitivity: 97% [95% confidence interval (CI): 86-100]; negative predictive value: 99% [95% CI: 93-100]; negative likelihood ratio: 0.08 [95% CI: 0.01-0.6]).


Among children who were being evaluated for intussusception, we prospectively determined clinical criteria and developed a decision tree to risk-stratify children with possible intussusception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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