Intussusception is best described as a condition where a portion of the intestine collapses into another portion. This fold causes a painful obstruction. Intussusception is commonly found in children and occurs at a rate of 1 in 4 out of every 1,000 children.
Understanding the Symptoms of Intussusception
Intussusception is a painful medical disorder that may be more difficult for children to withstand. This condition primarily causes vomiting, nausea, and upset stomach. Cramping is also a symptom. Children that have the disorder may not understand how to communicate what they are feeling. This results in crying excessively and heavy breathing. Rectal bleeding is a very scary symptom of this condition, and makes the stool resemble a coagulated bloody mess. This symptom may frighten children but it is important to keep the child calm to reduce further injury of the internal organs. Children may be unable to keep their legs from drawing in towards the stomach because of the pain.
Who is At Risk and What Causes It?
Children appear to be at a high risk for developing Intussusception but anyone can develop the disorder. It also appears to be much more common in male children than females. Adults can get this condition but it is rarely seen in adults. This could be due to the fact that adult intestines are not as small as juvenile intestines.
Doctors really do not know what causes this disorder, but some theories involve viruses. The condition appears to occur more often in the Spring and Autumn months, not summer or winter. When a child gets an infection of some sort they are more likely to develop Intussusception as a result of that. Children that do not eat enough may be at higher risk for intussusception because their intestines will be cramping from hunger and shifting around too much. This is common in third world countries where children are not fed enough or do too much with little food.
For adults having cancer or previous surgery in the intestine area puts them at greater risk for developing Intussusception. Scar tissue seems to encourage the condition.IBS and other bowel conditions may also lead to Intussusception. It is not impossible to have the condition more than once. Those who have had an intussusception in the past may be more likely to develop one again in the future for several different reasons.
Getting a Diagnosis
Diagnosis for Intussusception is done by physical exam as well as a rectal exam and ultrasound. All three of these combined will offer an accurate diagnosis. In some cases a doctor may choose to use an x-ray to confirm diagnosis of the condition; however they try to avoid doing so because of the radiation risks. Intussusception must be diagnosed early on to prevent perforation. The physical exam will often provide advanced notice by feeling a sausage like pouch in the abdomen. When the intussusception is close to the rectum, it is possible to feel it with the finger when inserted into the rectum. An ultrasound will often provide positive results when there is anything in the abdomen that is in excess of 3 centimeters where the fold would occur. X-ray options are not used as often because they can overlook the intussusceptions because they are not made of very thick tissues which would show up even under the best of conditions.
Undergoing Treatment for Intussusception
Treatment for this condition is based on how severe the problem is for each individual. If the intestines have already been perforated then further treatment is required. It is treated with an enema, or an air enema. Using an enema to treat the condition has a very high success rate as compared to other treatments. Some individuals may experience recurring symptoms shortly after treatment. The inussusception may recur when treated with an enema if it is already been in that position for some time before seeking help as the intestines could have formed a crease that resets when it is unfolded.
If these fail then surgery is required to reduce any more risks. Surgery is usually simple but it does require down time afterwards, reducing infection and other complications. The surgery is done by making an incision in the abdomen. After that the surgeon will slowly work on removing the problem by squeezing along the damaged area. If this isn’t successful then the surgeons must remove the portion that is damaged and reconnecting the intestines in a shorter length. This surgical method can prove to be one of the only ways to prevent it from recurring in the same place again. Surgical options will vary in length of recovery and can cause a great deal of pain for the patient until fully healed.
Complications of Intussusception
Untreated Intussusception can lead to necrosis. This is a condition where the cells begin to rot and cause an infection. If it lasts any longer, the condition can then turn into sepsis. Sepsis is a condition where the body becomes inflamed. This results in fever, and is a sign that the body is trying to fight off infection. This is an extremely dangerous point of the condition and requires emergency care. Without emergency care the person could slip into coma or die from the amount of stress that the body is enduring. It is very important to bring anyone with any symptoms that seem severe to the hospital as quickly as possible.
If the intestines are not properly cared for after surgery then an infection is highly likely. Not catching these things on time can result in death quite easily. Complications begin to take place 24 hours after the folding of the intestine takes place. The longer the person goes without care, the more risks they have to face. Those who are greatest at risk are of third world countries who do not have the ability to receive care right away. Many children will seem like they are acting out of pain for no particular reason and will be hard to understand, especially if they are not of speaking age or unable to communicate their pain well enough.
Prognosis for people who Have Intussusceptions In their Bowels
With the proper treatment of the affected bowel, prognosis looks very well for the patient. Depending on the type of treatment that has been performed, the healing process could take longer amounts of time. In cases that are resolved with the use of a liquid or gaseous enema, the recovery process could take just a few days. In cases where necrosis or damage to the intestines have occurred and surgery is required, the healing process could take weeks to even months before they can eat normally and move around without causing extra harm to their intestines.
With the proper treatment and without extraneous complications such as diabetes or other disease which could cause reduced healing capacity, prognosis is with a positive outlook for the patient. Dangerous occurrences which could cause death are infection of the site due to damaged intestinal walls and excrement releasing into the system or simply rejection of the surgery where intestines are reduced. In any case, the main problem is catching the intussusception in advance before it becomes a real life threatening problem.