Intussusception (Outpatient)

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Intussusception (In-TUSS-uh-SEP-shun) is a blockage of the intestines. It happens when one part of the intestine folds into another part. In most cases the cause is not known. It may occur any time between 3 months and 5 years of age, but is more common in children younger than 18 months. It tends to run in families. If one child has had intussusception, brothers and sisters are more likely to have it. Even with treatment, there's a 10% chance that it could happen again.

Signs of Intussusception

Part of the intestine folds into another part

  • Pain in the abdomen (tummy) that comes and goes, or comes on suddenly.
  • The child pulls his or her legs up to the chest.
  • "Jelly" type stools, sometimes with blood.
  • Abdomen is distended (puffed out) or rigid.
  • Child may be listless (hard to wake up).

How It Is Diagnosed

  • X-ray of the abdomen.
  • Sometimes a sausage-like mass can be felt in the tummy. This is the folding of the intestine.


Many intussusceptions are fixed with an air enema. If your child needs an air enema, he will be given a medicine (sedation) to help him sleep so he will be comfortable while the procedure is done.

A tube is put into the child's rectum so the doctor can look at the intestines with a special X-ray. Many times the area that has folded over itself unfolds when the air moves through it. If this happens, the child is usually sent home later in the day.

After your child wakes up in the ED he will be given clear liquids at first. If he keeps these down, other liquids, including formula or breast milk, may be given. Be sure to tell your nurse if you are breast-feeding so you can use a breast pump to save your milk for your baby.

Pain Medicine

Doctor's Order

  • Your child's doctor has prescribed acetaminophen, _______ mg. Tylenol®, Feverall® and Tempra® are some of the brand names of this medicine.
  • Follow the instructions on the label to find the number of tablets or amount of liquid to give your child.
  • This medicine should be given every 4 hours while your child is awake for the next 3 days if he has pain.
  • If your child has severe pain that is not relieved by acetaminophen, call your doctor.
  • Do not give your child ibuprofen, such as Children's Motrin® or Children's Advil®, without asking your doctor first.
  • Side effects are rare, but if your child has nausea or vomiting, skin rash or bruises, stop giving this medicine and call your doctor.

Safety Tips and Other Advice

  • Read the label each time before you give your child this medicine.
  • Give the exact amount of medicine as ordered by your doctor.
  • If the medicine is a liquid, use a pediatric measuring device (available at the pharmacy) to measure the exact dose. Do not measure liquid medicines in kitchen spoons.
  • Stay with your child until he or she has swallowed the dose of medicine.
  • Do not give more than 5 doses of this medicine in a 24-hour period unless ordered by your doctor.
  • Store all medicine out of the reach of children.
  • If your child or someone else takes too much of this medicine, first call the Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 (TDD 614-228-2272). They will tell you what to do.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if your child has:

  • Fever over 101 F
  • Increasing pain
  • Swelling, redness, or drainage from the incision
  • Any signs of intussusception coming back.

If you have any questions, call __________________________________ or the Nationwide Children's Hospital operator at (614) 722-2000 and ask for the "surgeon on call."

Intussusception Outpatient (PDF)

HH-I-362 5/14 Copyright 2014, Nationwide Children's Hospital