Contact Us  |  Search: 
Printer Friendly VersionEmail A FriendAdd ThisIncrease Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Meckel's diverticulum

 

Definition

A Meckel's diverticulum is a pouch on the wall of the lower part of the small bowel that is present at birth (congenital). The diverticulum may contain tissue from the stomach or pancreas.

Causes

A Meckel's diverticulum is tissue left over from structures in the unborn baby's digestive tract that were not fully reabsorbed before birth. Approximately 2% of the population has a Meckel's diverticulum, but only a few people develop symptoms.

Symptoms
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain ranging from mild to severe
  • Passing of blood in the stool

Symptoms often occur during the first few years of life, but may not start until adulthood.

Signs and tests
  • Blockage of the intestine
  • Inflammation of the pouch (diverticulitis)
  • Invisible (occult) blood in the stool
  • Painless bleeding in the intestine (see GI bleeding)
  • Visible blood in the stool

Tests:

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

Full recovery can be expected with surgery.

Calling your health care provider

See your health care provider promptly if your child passes blood or bloody stool or complains repeatedly of abdominal discomfort.

Complications
  • Excess bleeding (hemorrhage)
  • Folding of the intestines (intussusception), a type of blockage
  • Peritonitis
  • Tear (perforation) of the bowel at the diverticulum
Treatments

Surgery to remove the diverticulum is recommended if bleeding develops. In these rare cases, the segment of small intestine that contains the diverticulum is surgically removed. The ends of the intestine are sewn back together.

You may need iron replacement to correct anemia. If you have a lot of bleeding, you may need a blood transfusion.

Prevention

References

Kahn E, Daum F. Anatomy, histology, embryology, and developmental anomalies of the small and large intestine. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 93.


Review Date: 10/13/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
MAIMONIDES
MEDICAL CENTER


Home Page
Why Choose Us
Donations
Website Terms of Use
PATIENT
INFORMATION


Visitor & Patient Info
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us
KEY
INFORMATION


Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking
FOR HEALTH
PROFESSIONALS


Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access

Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000