Kids with intussusception can experience excruciating pain and discomfort, but treatment options are available that can help alleviate those symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the various intussusception treatments for children and their efficacy in providing relief from this condition.
Intussusception may not be apparent right away, but when it does manifest itself, the onset of symptoms can occur abruptly. Pain and bowel blockages are usually tell-tale signs, yet many other signs exist as well in both adults and children alike.
Symptoms in children
Because intussusception is most common in children who cannot describe their symptoms, it can be challenging to recognize. Intussusception typically causes fluctuating, or colicky, abdominal pain. Other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, may accompany this pain.
In between the intense episodes of pain, it may appear that the symptoms have subsided, and children can return to their daily activities. However, if intussusception has caused a disruption in blood flow to any affected areas, then this discomfort will become constant.
Other symptoms may include:
- a mass in the abdominal area that you can see or feel
- bloody stool
- nausea and vomiting
- little or no energy
Symptoms in adults
Intussusception is a rare diagnosis in adults, as it can be challenging to identify. Common symptoms of adult intussusception are abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting – usually acute but coming on intermittently over time which may lead some people to wait weeks before seeking help. Thus, early detection is paramount for the successful treatment and management of this condition.
Diagnosis of Intussusception
Successfully managing intussusception begins with an accurate diagnosis. The process typically starts by evaluating a child’s symptoms and performing a physical examination of the abdomen to detect any signs that could be associated with this condition. A doctor may press lightly on the abdomen to feel for lumps or tenderness, or use imaging tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds to assess if there are any other factors in play that can help identify what is causing discomfort.
With the suspicion of intussusception in children, doctors are turning towards ultrasound imaging tests for diagnosis. This innovative technology uses sound waves and a computer to create images within your body – without radiation exposure! In nearly 100 percent of cases, an ultrasound is capable of accurately diagnosing or ruling out intussusception from any given patient.
Other diagnostic tools, like X-rays and CT scans, may also detect intussusception when tests are completed to pinpoint abdominal pain. Since cases of intussusception in adults are rarer than those the pediatric population sees, doctors usually discover this condition when they conduct diagnostics for other potential causes of an upset stomach or blockage.
Your physician may opt for a barium enema, also known as lower gastrointestinal series, to diagnose intussusception in certain cases. This entails introducing liquid barium or another fluid into your rectum via an X-ray image of the lower part of your small intestine. If you have a milder version of this condition, the pressure from inserting that liquid can often return any folded tissue back to its original place.
The doctor may also order diagnostic imaging tests such as an abdominal ultrasound or X-ray to get a better look at the affected area.
Medical Treatments for Intussusception
Taking into account the severity of intussusception as well as a child’s age and overall health, doctors typically begin consideration with non-surgical treatments for this condition. There are multiple medical remedies available to address this issue.
For less severe cases, medical professionals may decide to practice watchful waiting and assess the patient’s condition without providing any treatment until it resolves on its own. There are also several medications available that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with intussusception, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or narcotic medicines like codeine or oxycodone.
When medical intervention is unavoidable, barium saline, hydrostatic reduction or pneumatic pressure enema may be the course of action to treat intussusception. This procedure begins by injecting air into the intestine, which results in enough pressure pushing affected tissue back into place. Furthermore, fluids administered through a tube in your rectum can help reduce symptoms and return the tissue to its rightful spot so you can get on with life!
When enemas fail to work or there are signs of tissue death in the bowels, surgery may be necessary. This operation could involve folding back the intestines and eliminating any damaged tissues caused by intussusception.
To ensure that surgery goes smoothly, general anesthesia will be administered to either you or your child. Depending on the type of operation needed, surgeons can opt for a keyhole incision and use small cameras (laparoscopy), or go with a larger incision approach.
For adults and children who have a serious intussusception, the primary solution is often surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon may manually reposition your intestine or possibly remove part of it if significant tissue damage has occurred. The remaining sections will then be meticulously stitched back together.
Other Treatment Options for Intussusception
In addition to traditional medical treatments, alternative therapies have proven beneficial for treating intussusception in children. Acupuncture has been known to reduce pain and improve digestion associated with this condition. Various dietary modifications can also provide relief from uncomfortable symptoms. To name one example—avoiding dairy products may help alleviate discomfort caused by intussusception. Massage therapy has been known to be an effective remedy for intestinal cramps caused by intussusception, while relaxation practices such as yoga and meditation can help soothe taut muscles encompassing the intestine, providing some reprieve from the pain brought on by spasms associated with intussusception.
Every year in the United States, intussusception affects around 2,000 children in the first 12 months of life. In young children, nonsurgical treatments may be enough to treat it effectively. However, surgical options are also available for treating intussusception. Parents like you should view symptoms like sudden abdominal pain and changes in your child’s stool seriously. The earlier you seek medical help for symptoms, the sooner your child will feel better, and the lower the risk of complications.