Intussusception: What is Intussusception?


is a condition in which one part of the intestine slides into another section of the intestine. It is usually seen in children but can be seen in adults as well. Intussusception is seen both in small bowel and colon. CT scan shows that after sliding, the intestine looks like a collapsible tube with one part of it slipping inside another part. The part of the intestine that prolapses into the other is called the intussusception, and the part of the intestine that receives it is called the intussuscipiens.


A person having intussusception has:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling of pulling legs to the chest area
  • Intermittent moderate to severe cramping abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Red stools
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

Diagnosis of Intussusception:

Intussusception is diagnosed by taking the patient’s history and physical examination.

Dance’s sign

is observed during the examination. Dance’s sign is retraction of the right iliac fossa seen in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Per rectal examination is helpful in diagnosis of intussusception in children as its part is felt by the finger.


is the best choice of diagnosis for intussusception due to its clarity, accuracy and benefit of no radiation. An X-ray and CT of abdomen evaluates intestinal obstruction or the presence of free intraperitoneal gas. In some hospitals, air enema is used for both diagnosis and treatment of intussusception.

Treatment of Intussusception:

Most of the cases of intussusception are treated by inserting

air enema

into intestines. The doctor puts air into the rectum through a small tube and by the force of air, the intestine unfolds the sliding and thus blockage is cleared. Antibiotics are generally not needed unless the procedure is painful.

In extreme cases, doctor opts for surgery to correct intussusception. This is in the case when the intestine does not respond to air enema. If tumor or polyp is the cause of intussusception then surgery is the option.

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