Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Intestinal Atresia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Intestinal Atresia

Symptoms of intestinal atresia (IA) may first show up before a baby is born. One sign of IA is extra amniotic fluid around the 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 amniotic fluid. This condition sometimes shows up on an ultrasound before the baby is born.

Symptoms of IA show up within the first 1 to 2 days after birth. Babies with IA may have 1 or more of these symptoms:

  • No stool passed (bowel movement)
  • Swollen belly from gas
  • Vomiting; vomit may be yellow or greenish in color
  • Does not want to eat

Intestinal Atresia Diagnosis

To find out if your baby has IA, 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 IA, 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. Either the baby drinks the liquid or doctors place a small tube into the stomach to deliver the dye.

Sometimes doctors suspect a baby may have IA based on a routine ultrasound before the baby is born. This is most common with duodenal atresia. If this happens with your baby, the team at Seattle Children’s Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Program can work with you to get ready for the birth and plan for the surgery your baby will need.

Contact Us

If you have questions about IA treatment, call our General and Thoracic Surgery Department at 206-987-2794, extension 4.