Intussusception is a problem with the intestine in which one portion of the bowel slides into the next, much like the pieces of a telescope.
Intussusception can cause a blockage in the bowel, which in turn leads to swelling, inflammation, and decreased blood flow to the part of the intestines involved. If left untreated, intussusception can cause severe complications, which are directly related to the amount of time that passes from when the intussusception occurred until it's treated.
Usually, the cause of intussusception is not known. In some cases a viral infection is thought to be the trigger. It occurs most often in kids between 6 months and 2 years of age. After being treated for intussusception, kids generally get better without any complications.
A certain kind of enema containing air or a chalky liquid called barium is used to both diagnose and treat intussusception.
Intussusception is a medical emergency. If you're concerned that your child has some or all of the symptoms of intussusception — such as repeated crampy abdominal pain, vomiting, drowsiness, or passing stools (poop) mixed with blood and mucus (known as currant jelly stool) — call your doctor or emergency medical services immediately. Most children recover completely after proper treatment.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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