Intussusception is a serious disorder in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine. This "telescoping" often blocks food or fluid from passing through. Intussusception also cuts off the blood supply to the part of the intestine that's affected. Intussusception can lead to a tear in the bowel (perforation), infection and death of bowel tissue. Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children younger than 3.
Intussusception causes are not clearly established or understood. They can include infections, anatomical factors, and altered motility. Some researchers suspect infectious agents, including rotavirus, are causative factor, but studies and analysis have not conclusively established this. A review of sparse data on the possible association between natural rotavirus and intussusception has not demonstrated a possible association until very recently. In addition, ecological studies revealed that no seasonality exists for intussusception in the United States, whereas rotavirus has distinct wintertime peaks. In developing countries, patterns of intussusception may be quite variable and different from developed countries. This may likely be due to incomplete reporting of cases in developing countries. Rates of intussusception may also vary according to socioeconomic status in developing country.
An enema is the first step in treatment. In fact, an enema that is used to diagnose intussusception may also help to treat it. Pressure from the air or fluid may cause the intestine to correct itself. The result of an enema treatment might not last, so patients usually stay in the hospital overnight for observation. Surgery is another treatment option. Intussusception surgery involves either a large incision or a small incision and a camera. This is called laparoscopic surgery. The type of surgery depends on the location and severity of the obstruction. Intussusception surgery may include removal of the affected section of intestine.