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Intussusception: Clinical Presentations and Imaging Characteristics

Mandeville, Katherine MD*; Chien, Ming MD*; Willyerd, F. Anthony MD*; Mandell, Gerald MD; Hostetler, Mark A. MD*; Bulloch, Blake MD*

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318267a75e
Original Articles

Objective The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of clinical findings associated with intussusception based on age and to evaluate the test characteristics of the presence of air in the ascending colon on abdominal radiographs and the effectiveness of ultrasound in diagnosing intussusception.

Methods This was a retrospective cohort study via chart review at a tertiary care center from January 2002 to December 2008. All children, aged 0 to 17 years, were identified with intussusception by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision diagnostic coding. Charts were reviewed for clinical signs and symptoms at presentation, and all diagnostic studies were retrieved. A pediatric radiologist reviewed all films and ultrasounds.

Results A total of 219 patients were identified with intussusception. One hundred thirty-two (60%) of patients were male; 127 (60%) were younger than 1 year (median, 7 months), 59 (27%) were 13 to 35 months (median, 23 months), and 33 (15%) were 3 years or older (median, 5 years). Children younger than 12 months were more likely to present with emesis, irritability, and guaiac-positive or grossly bloody stools compared with children older than 12 months (P < 0.05). In children older than 12 months, abdominal pain was the most common symptom (>96%). Plain films were performed in 192 children, and of these, 163 (85%) had no air present in the ascending colon. Abdominal ultrasound was performed on 63 patients, with 58 (92%) having findings consistent with intussusception.

Conclusions Abdominal pain is the most common complaint in all ages for children presenting with intussusception. In children younger than 12 months, the strongest clinical predictors are emesis, irritability, and blood in the stool. For diagnosing intussusceptions, radiographs of the abdomen performed well, but ultrasound performed better, diagnosing intussusception in 92% of the cases.

From the Departments of *Emergency Medicine and †Radiology, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix, AZ.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Blake Bulloch, MD, 1919 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016 (e-mail:

There was no grant support for this study.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.