Meckel Diverticulum

MECKEL DIVERTICULUM

Meckel Diverticulum is an out pouching or bulge in the lower part of the small intestine. The bulge is congenital (present at birth) and is a leftover of the umbilical cord. Meckel diverticulum is the most common congenital defect of the gastrointestinal tract. It occurs in about 2% to 3% of the general population.

WHAT CAUSES MECKEL DIVERTICULUM?

Meckel Diverticulum occurs in a fetus early in the pregnancy.

Furthermore a Meckel Diverticulum may contain cells from both the stomach and pancreas. Cells from the stomach can secrete acid, which can cause ulcers and bleeding.

WHO GETS MECKEL DIVERTICULUM?

Though 2% to 3% of the population gets Meckel Diverticulum

It causes symptoms in only a small number of those people. People can live their whole lives without ever knowing they have Meckel Diverticulum. Also the condition is equally common among males and females. But males are two to three times more likely to have complications.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS

Symptoms usually occur during the first year of a child’s life but can occur into adulthood also.

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (which can be seen in the stool)
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Tenderness near the navel (belly button)
  • Also, diverticulitis (swelling of the intestinal wall)
  • Furthermore, obstruction of the bowels, a blockage that keeps the contents of the intestines from passing. This can cause pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.

The most common symptom in children under age five is bleeding. Which is caused by ulcers that develop in the small intestine when the diverticulum secretes stomach acid. A bowel obstruction occurs more often in older children and adults. Also, the diverticulitis can occur at any age but is most common in older children. Tumours can occur mainly in adults. But these are a rare symptom of Meckel’s diverticulum.

Hence, if your child has any of the above symptoms, you should see your paediatrician or healthcare provider immediately.

HOW IS MECKEL DIVERTICULUM DIAGNOSED?

Meckel Diverticulum can be difficult to diagnose. Many of the symptoms, such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and tenderness, can occur in several different conditions.

If your child’s healthcare provider feels that the combination of symptoms suggests Meckel’s diverticulum, probably he or she will order certain tests. These include:

Technetium Scan

This test is a scan. Radioactive technetium is injected into the body. This substance is absorbed by stomach cells in the diverticulum and can be detected by a special camera.

Colonoscopy

In this test, a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and colon to look for blockages and the cause of bleeding.

HOW IS MECKEL’S DIVERTICULUM TREATED?

Many adults who have Meckel diverticulum never have symptoms. They learn they have the condition only after it is noticed during surgery or during tests for another condition. In this case, Meckel diverticulum usually does not have to be treated.

Surgery to remove the diverticulum may be recommended if bleeding develops. During this procedure, the Meckel diverticulum and surrounding small intestine are removed. And the ends of the remaining intestines are sewn together.

Finally, this can be done either through open abdominal surgery or laparoscopically (a narrow tube with a camera is inserted through a small incision, and the Meckel diverticulum is repaired through another small incision). Above all, your physician can recommend the best approach based on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health.

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PATIENT STORY

A 2-year child was brought to a hospital by his parents. The parents were saying that a strange thing is bulging from his belly button. So, he was shown to various doctors in different hospitals. But the mass from the navel remained there. Finally, the mass coming out of his belly button was investigated by ultrasound and it was reported to be intestine.

After all the necessary preparations the child was operated upon. When this loop of intestine was released circumferentially it came into full view and was found to be a Meckel diverticulum. This is a birth abnormality which needed corrective surgery by removing it from the normal intestine.

Consequently, the child did very well post surgery and was discharged home on the fourth day. He is back home and doing very well.

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