Intestinal atresia repair is a surgery to fix a birth defect of the small or large intestine. The surgery removes the obstructed part of intestine and reconnects the healthy ends.
Multiple procedures may be needed to complete this repair if a large area of the intestine is affected.
Intestinal atresia is an area of the intestine that has not formed correctly and is completely closed off. The affected area makes it impossible for food or liquid to pass through the intestines. Food cannot be properly digested or passed out of the body. Intestinal atresia needs to be treated immediately for the baby’s survival.
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Problems from the procedure vary according to the location and size of the defect. The doctor will review potential problems, like:
If the atresia is suspected before birth, a plan will be made to make repairs soon after the baby is born. Repairs cannot be made prior to the baby’s birth.
After birth, supportive steps before the surgery may include:
General anesthesia is used. The baby will be asleep during the procedure.
The extent of the surgery depends on how much of the intestine is affected. An incision will be made in the abdomen. The damaged intestine will be located and removed. The healthy ends of the intestine will be connected. When the corrections are done the incision will be closed with stitches and/or staples. The incision will be covered with a bandage.
Sometimes the remaining intestines need time to recover or cannot be reconnected right away for another reason. In that case, an opening may be made in the skin and abdominal wall. The upper part of the remaining intestine is attached to this opening to form a stoma. The stoma will allow digested food to pass out of the body into an attached bag. This will allow timee for the lower intestine to heal or lenghten enough to make the connection.
Future surgeries may be needed to reconnect the healthy intestines if a stoma was made or to complete additional repairs once the baby is healthier.
The baby will be taken to a recovery room and monitored.
It depends on how much repair is needed.
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Additional medication will be given to relieve pain or soreness during recovery.
The length of stay depends on the extent of the repair needed. Proper feeding, weight gain, and bowel function are needed before the baby can go home. This may take several weeks.
A neonatal intensive care unit will monitor blood pressure, pulse, and breathing. Recovery may also include:
The hospital staff will take steps to reduce the chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your baby’s chances of infection such as:
Recovery may take some time and require a special diet. Your baby’s growth and overall health will be monitored to make sure the baby has adequate nutrition.
It is important to monitor your baby's recovery after they leave the hospital. Alert your baby's doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your baby's doctor:
Call for emergency medical service right away if your baby has:
If you think your baby has an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March of Dimes
March of Dimes Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD