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Intestinal Atresia and Duodenal Atresia

What is intestinal atresia?

Intestinal atresia (absence of a normal opening) is the failure of a portion of the intestinal tract to completely form. It occurs most frequently in the ileum (lower part of the small intestine). It can also occur in the duodenum (part of the intestine that empties from the stomach), jejunum (second part of the intestine extending from the duodenum to the ileum), or the colon (large intestine). Diagnosis can be made by ultrasound during pregnancy or can present on the first to second day of life. Abdominal distension (inflation) increases, the infant fails to pass stools, and, finally, feedings are vomited. The cause of intestinal atresia is not known.

What are the types of intestinal atresia?

Duodenal atresia can often be diagnosed prenatally. After delivery, the infant soon begins vomiting. An x-ray of the abdomen will usually diagnose the problem. Almost one third of babies with duodenal atresia have Down syndrome.

Atresias can also occur in the jejunum and ileum. There are several different types of jejunal and ileal atresia: they can range from having a small area of blockage or web to missing large sections of the intestines.

How is intestinal atresia treated?

The intestinal atresia is resected (cut out) and a primary anastomosis (surgical formation of a passage) is performed. Sometimes a colostomy may need to be created. Depending on the type of atresia, the baby may be in the hospital for longer than one to two months. Your pediatric surgeon will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s surgery.

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University of Texas Health Science Center Professional Building
Department of Pediatric Surgery

6410 Fannin Street, Suite 950
Houston, Texas 77030

Phone: (832) 325-7234

Office Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday except major holidays)

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This information, although based on a thorough knowledge and careful review of current medical literature, is the opinion of doctors at The University of Texas Medical School and is presented to inform you about surgical conditions. It is not meant to contradict any information you may receive from your personal physician and should not be used to make decisions about surgical treatment. If you have any questions about the information above or your child's care, please contact our doctors.