Intussusception is the leading cause of acute intestinal obstruction in infants. Intussusception is mostly idiopathic, but infectious pathogens are sometimes implicated. In addition, live oral rotavirus vaccines have been associated with intussusception.
We searched the literature published between January 1, 1990, and March 16, 2020, to describe the association between intussusception among infants and young children and various pathogens, particularly adenovirus and wild rotavirus. We tallied the number of evaluations reporting a statistically significant positive association, no association and a protective association by pathogen, using any statistical method. We also calculated the median reported odds ratios (OR) of intussusception with adenovirus and rotavirus.
We identified 3793 records on intussusception from the literature; 17 evaluations from 15 countries that evaluated 52 pathogens were included in the analysis. All 14 evaluations of adenovirus reported a statistically significant positive association with intussusception; the median OR from 9 evaluations was 3.7 (interquartile range, 3.3, 8.2). Nine of 12 evaluations assessing rotavirus found no statistically significant association, 1 found a positive association and 2 reported a protective effect; the median OR from 12 evaluations was 0.9 (interquartile range, 0.2, 1.8). No consistent relationship was observed between any other pathogens and intussusception.
We documented a consistent association of intussusception with adenovirus, but no relationship between wild-type rotavirus and intussusception. Future research should focus on better understanding the mechanisms of intussusception with infectious pathogens, including following a rotavirus vaccination.