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Enema-Reduced Intussusception Management: Is Hospitalization Necessary?

Herwig, Kathryn MD; Brenkert, Timothy MD; Losek, Joseph D. MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318196ea2d
Original Articles

Objectives: To describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of hospitalized children with enema-reduced intussusception and to determine the necessity of hospitalization.

Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional study of patients (0-17 years of age) with enema-reduced intussusception hospitalized at a 110-bed urban children's hospital. For this study, potential necessity of hospitalization was defined as the presence of associated dehydration, persistent symptoms and signs of intussusception requiring repeated radiographic studies, and/or enema-reduced serious complications (bowel perforation and/or sepsis).

Results: For a 12-year period (January 1995 to December 2006), 45 patients who had enema-reduced intussusception were hospitalized. There were 32 males (71%). Three (6.7%) of the 45 patients had recurrent episodes of intussusception occurring at 2, 7, and 45 months after the initial episode. The initial episode for only 1 of these 3 was an enema-reduced hospitalization event. Thus, the following results include 46 episodes among 45 patients.

The mean (SD) age at the time of intussusception was 19.6 (25.4) months, and the median age was 10 months (range, 2-135 months). There were 27 episodes (59%) of patients 12 months or younger. The types of intussusception were ileocolic, 44 and ileoileum, 2. In 13 episodes (28%), patients were described as dehydrated and/or having an abnormal basic metabolic panel test result and meeting one of the study criteria for potential necessity of hospitalization. During the hospitalization, enema was repeated in 1 patient (2%) who had recurrent pain. The repeated enema was normal. No patient had a recurrent intussusception or developed signs of bowel perforation or sepsis while hospitalized. The mean (SD) hospital length of stay was 25.6 (9.9) hours, and the median time was 23 hours (range, 12-60 hours).

Conclusions: Hospitalized children with enema-reduced intussusception required minimal interventions, had a low rate of signs and symptoms requiring further radiographic studies, and had no enema-reduced serious complications during hospitalization. These results support outpatient management as an acceptable alternative.

From the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.

Reprints: Joseph D. Losek, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina, 135 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29425 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.