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What is Intussusception Surgery?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Intussusception surgery is an abdominal surgical procedure performed to correct intussusception, where a segment of bowel telescopes in on itself and causes an obstruction. This procedure can be performed by a general surgeon or a specialist in gastroenterology, and it is done while the patient is under general anesthesia. Recovery time from intussusception surgery varies, depending on the patient's age and when the problem was identified. It may be necessary to spend several days in the hospital after the surgery.

In intussusception, a segment of bowel slips up inside the preceding segment. The walls of the bowel rub against each other and become inflamed, creating a bowel obstruction. The patient will feel abdominal discomfort and may be nauseous. Passage of stool will be limited and abdominal bloating can occur. The causes of this condition are not well understood, although people with a family history of this condition appear to be at greater risk.

Sometimes, intussusception can be corrected with an enema or an endoscopic bowel procedure. In other cases, the obstruction is significant enough to require a surgical procedure. In intussusception surgery, the surgeon gently separates the telescoped bowel. If a segment of the bowel has died — a concern when the condition has gone several days without diagnosis — it may be necessary to remove the dead segment of bowel and create an anastomosis, sewing the healthy ends of the bowel together.

In very young children, intussusception is a common cause of bowel obstruction, and it may be correctly diagnosed before the patient enters surgery. In adults, a patient is usually brought into surgery to investigate the bowel obstruction, and the intussusception is identified during the surgery. In both cases, the surgeon carefully inspects the bowel for any other signs of problems. Intussusception surgery may be open or laparoscopic, with laparoscopic procedures being less invasive and having a much faster healing time.

After intussusception surgery, the patient may need to eat a special diet for a few days while the bowel recovers. The surgical site will be inspected regularly for any signs of infection and the bandages will be changed at the same time. Potential complications of intussusception surgery include bowel perforation, infection, and adverse reactions to anesthesia. Working with an experienced surgical team can help limit risks, and patients should be thorough about disclosing their medical history so the surgeon and anesthesiologist can identify any potential risk factors before the patient goes into surgery.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon934073 — On Feb 18, 2014

I'm a 27 year old female. I surely didn't want to get checked out but I'm glad I did. I've been diagnosed with intussusception and diverticulosis. Your health is nothing to take lightly.

By anon278636 — On Jul 08, 2012

My two year old son had an intussusception surgery two months ago. Now he is suffering from severe constipation. He couldn't poop without a strong laxative suppository every two or three days. I need advice please. He is heartbroken, really heartbroken and all of us are, too.

By allenJo — On Aug 30, 2011

@MrMoody - I totally agree with you. I had a friend who died because of colon cancer. They tried to help him but it was too little too late for him.

It was tragic, and his family was heartbroken, as you can imagine. I would just like to add weight loss to your list of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, which is one of the things that happened to my friend.

Of course weight loss alone could mean anything, but taken together with the other symptoms you mentioned, it may indicate a problem with the colon.

By MrMoody — On Aug 29, 2011

It’s unfortunate, but many times people are reluctant to go to the doctor and discuss colon or intestinal problems because of embarrassment.

However, there is nothing to be embarrassed about, and the risks to your health can be very high if you don’t address these problems immediately. I’ve had the occasional bowel movements with blood in the stool, but this was usually the result of poor diet (no fiber) and straining too hard.

However, if such a thing happened persistently (which it hasn’t) I would immediately make a point to see the doctor. Blood in the stool, constant bouts with both diarrhea and constipation, pain in the abdomen and a general feeling of fatigue – all of these things can be bowel cancer symptoms.

Don’t take it lightly; see your doctor right away.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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