DefinitionMeckels diverticulum is a pouch of extra tissue in the wall of the small intestine. It's the most common birth defect of the gastrointestinal tract.In most people, Meckels diverticulum doesn't cause problems or require treatment. One serious complication, called Meckels diverticulitis, is an infection and inflammation of the pouch. Meckels diverticulitis requires prompt medical attention.
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CausesMeckels diverticulum develops before birth. It is created by a section of tissue that acts as a link to the umbilical cord in early development. Normally, this tissue shrinks and is reabsorbed by the 7th week of pregnancy. In Meckels diverticulum the tissue remains, creating a pouch or bulge in the lower part of the small intestine.It is not clear why this tissue is not reabsorbed, but it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Risk FactorsMeckels diverticulum occurs more often in males than females.Complications are also more likely to develop in male children under 2 years old.
SymptomsMost people with Meckels diverticulum don't have symptoms.Meckels diverticulum that is infected or inflamed can cause:
- Blood in the stool
- Cramping abdominal pain
- Pain in lower abdomen that worsens with sneezing, coughing, and deep breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Slight fever
DiagnosisIf you have symptoms, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may suspect Meckels diverticulum based on your symptoms, but it can be difficult to diagnose, especially in adults.Meckels diverticulum without symptoms is usually found incidentally during another procedure.It may be found with imaging tests, such as:
- Meckel scan (technetium-99m pertechnetate scan)
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal x-ray
- Abdominal ultrasound
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