Intussusception (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of intussusception?

Most describe the symptoms of intussusception as a triad of colicky abdominal pain, bilious vomiting, and "currant jelly" stool.

The primary symptom of intussusception is described as intermittent crampy abdominal pain. This is often called "colicky pain." Intussusception in an infant usually starts with the infant suddenly crying very loudly, as if in great pain. The infant intermittently draws the knees up to the chest while crying. This reaction is caused by the abdominal pain which recurs frequently and increases in intensity and duration. These intermittent painful episodes are believed to be caused by the telescoping of the bowel and resultant compression of blood vessels and nerves.

In addition to the abdominal pain, most children will also have episodes of vomiting associated with the pain. This vomiting is usually not associated with eating and may be bilious (yellow-green colored)

Some affected individuals who do not seek early medical attention may pass "currant jelly stool". This is stool that is bloody and mucousy and may be a sign that the affected bowel has lost its blood supply and that the bowel may be necrotic (non-viable).

As the condition progresses, the infant becomes may become weaker and develop additional symptoms, including those associated with shock, such as paleness, lethargy, and even fever, though these are not an integral part of the associated "triad."

Thankfully, most cases are diagnosed early, and some studies describe the development of the bloody stools as occurring in only one-third of the cases diagnosed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/18/2012

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