Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Intestinal Atresia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Intestinal Atresia

Symptoms of intestinal atresia may first show up before a baby is born. One sign of IA is finding extra amniotic fluid around the developing baby inside the mother's womb. This condition is called polyhydramnios (pronounced pahl-ee-hi-DRAM-nee-us). It occurs because the baby's intestines don't absorb the typical amount of fluid. This condition sometimes shows up on ultrasound examinations made before your baby is born.

Symptoms of intestinal artresia show up within the first day or two after birth. Babies with intestinal atresia may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • No stool passed
  • Swollen belly from gas
  • Vomiting; vomit may be yellow or greenish in color
  • Lack of desire to eat

Intestinal Atresia Diagnosis

To find out if your baby has intestinal atresia, the doctor will ask for imaging tests. Your baby may have:

  • A regular X-ray of your baby's belly. Regular X-rays may show signs of intestinal atresia, including bubbles of fluid and air in the stomach and first part of the intestine or no air in other parts of the intestine.
  • A series of X-rays called a contrast study. In contrast studies, doctors put a liquid that contains a dye into your baby's large intestine (colon). The dye helps your baby's intestine show up on X-ray film. In some cases, the dye goes in the baby's stomach. Babies either drink the liquid or doctors place a small tube into the stomach to deliver the dye.

Sometimes doctors suspect a baby may have intestinal atresia based on what they see during a routine ultrasound examination made before your baby is born. This is most common with a duodenal atresia. If this happens with your baby, your doctors can work with you before your baby is born to plan for treatment after birth.