Postoperative intussusception is an uncommon cause of intestinal obstruction in children after surgery. Certain clinical findings should prompt a rapid assessment of a child in order to prevent bowel necrosis. The authors are from Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

Time of occurrence - early after surgery (about 50% occur in the first week, 80% within 2 weeks and all within 3 weeks)


Most patients are under 3 years of age, but it may occur in older children and adolescents.


Surgeries where more common:

(1) antireflux procedures

(2) retroperitoneum surgery


Upper GI findings:

(1) bilious gastric drainage

(2) increased nasogastric secretions

(3) vomiting


Abdominal findings:

(1) abdominal pain

(2) abdominal distention

(3) palpable abdominal mass


Lower GI findings:

(1) diarrhea

(2) rectal bleeding


Nonspecific findings:

(1) irritability

(2) flexed knees in an infant

(3) fever

(4) unexplained lethargy


Imaging studies will usually demonstrate a bowel obstruction.

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