Intussusception is a serious type of bowel obstruction. The intestine is shaped like a long tube. Intussusception occurs when one part of the intestine slides up into another part of the intestine. This part of the intestine becomes trapped and starts to swell. The swelling can block the flow of food. If severe, swelling can also cut off the blood supply to the area.
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In many cases, there is no known cause for intussusception. However, intussusception may sometimes occur as a complication of some medical conditions, including:

Risk Factors

Intussusception is more common in children 3 months to 6 years old, but the majority are younger than 24 months. It is also more common in males. Factors that increase the risk of intussusception include:
  • Season: more common during respiratory and gastrointestinal virus seasons
  • Medical conditions in the list above


The initial symptoms may include:
  • Abdominal pain:
    • Usually severe
    • Colicky or cramping
    • Usually comes on suddenly
    • In children, this may be indicated by drawing knees to chest and crying
  • Vomiting—sometimes yellow or green tinged
  • Stools mixed with mucus and blood—often described as currant jelly
  • Lethargy
Additional symptoms include:Intussusception cuts off the blood supply to the bowel. If this is not treated quickly, it can lead to bowel gangrene. Gangrene can cause tissue in the intestinal wall to die. This may lead to:
  • Perforation of the intestinal wall
  • Inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity and infection—peritonitis
If not treated quickly, peritonitis can lead to death.

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