A form of obstruction of the bowels in which part of the INTESTINE enters within that part immediately beneath it. This can best be understood by observing what takes place in the ﬁngers of a tightly ﬁtting glove as they turn outside-in when the glove is pulled oﬀ the hand. Mostly, the condition aﬀects infants. Often it occurs during the course of a viral infection or a mild attack of gastroenteritis, or it may be that swelling of lymphoid tissue in the gut provokes the event. The point at which it most often occurs is the junction between the small and the large intestines, the former passing within the latter. The symptoms are those of intestinal obstruction in general (see INTESTINE, DISEASES OF – Obstruction), and in addition there is often a discharge of blood-stained mucus from the bowel. Unless the symptoms rapidly subside, when it may be assumed that the bowel has righted itself, treatment consists of either hydrostatic reduction by means of a barium or air ENEMA, or an operation. At operation the intussusception is either reduced or, if this not possible, the obstructed part is cut out and the ends of the intestine then stitched together. If treated adequately and in time, the mortality is now reduced to around 1 per cent. The condition may recur in about 5 per cent of patients.
Article Categories:Medical Dictionary