Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions


What Is Intussusception?

Intussusception (pronounced in-tuss-uss-EPP-shun) is a condition that occurs when one segment of the intestine slides into the segment next to it, like a telescope. When this happens, the walls of the intestine press against each other. This blocks the flow of stool (feces). The area that is blocked hurts and swells. Pressure cuts off blood flow to the intestine, which can damage the tissue. Intussusception needs treatment right away to prevent serious health problems.

Intussusception in Children

Any child can get this condition, but it's most common in children 6 months to 2 years old. In fact, it's the most common belly (abdominal) emergency in children in this age range. About 1 to 4 children in 1,000 get intussusception.

Intussusception at Seattle Children's

We treat many children every year with intussusception. In most cases, they don't need surgery. Among hospitals in Washington, Seattle Children's has the lowest rate of operating on children with intussusception.

While we can help most of these children without surgery, some do need an operation. Our surgeons are experienced at performing surgery to repair intussusception.

When you come to Seattle Children's, you have a team of people to care for your child before, during and after surgery. Along with your child's surgeon, you are connected with nurses, dietitians, child life specialists, social workers and others. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Seattle Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.