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Meckel’s Diverticulum

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KEY POINTS

  • Meckel’s diverticulum is a pouch of tissue in the wall of a baby’s intestines that forms before birth.
  • If Meckel’s diverticulum does not cause any problems, your child does not need treatment.
  • If your child has symptoms, he may need medicine, a blood transfusion, or surgery.

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What is Meckel’s diverticulum?

Meckel’s diverticulum is a pouch of tissue in the wall of the small intestines. The pouch forms in a baby before birth. It’s made of tissue that is like stomach tissue and can make digestive juices and acid. The acid can cause sores and bleeding in the intestines. The pouch can also cause a blockage in the intestines.

What is the cause?

The exact cause of Meckel’s diverticulum is not known.

What are the symptoms?

Meckel's diverticulum doesn't always cause symptoms. When it does cause symptoms, they may include:

  • Blood in bowel movements
  • Belly pain and cramps
  • A tender area near the belly button
  • Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting

How is it diagnosed?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Tests may include:

  • A test for blood in bowel movements
  • Blood test to check for low blood count (anemia)
  • An ultrasound, which uses sound waves to show pictures of the belly.
  • CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to show detailed pictures of the belly.
  • Meckel's scan, which is a type of nuclear scan, which uses a small amount of radioactive material injected into your child’s blood to look for a Meckel's pouch

Since Meckel's diverticulum may or may not cause symptoms, it can be diagnosed at any age.

How is it treated?

If Meckel’s diverticulum does not cause any problems, it may not be found and your child doesn’t need treatment. If your child has bleeding from the diverticulum, treatment may include:

  • Iron medicine to treat anemia (too few red blood cells)
  • A blood transfusion
  • Surgery to remove the diverticulum. Two kinds of surgery may be done:
    • Laparoscopic surgery is done through several small cuts in your child’s belly. A laparoscope is a small lighted tube put through the small cuts to look inside the belly. Other tools may be put through cuts in the belly to remove tissue.
    • Open surgery is done with one, larger cut in your child’s belly.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • How long it will take your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-03-23
Last reviewed: 2016-03-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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