Intestinal atresia is a birth defect that causes blockages in the intestine. This surgery removes the damaged area and connect the healthy ends.
A blockage of the intestine can be deadly. Surgery is done to let food pass through the intestines. More than one surgery may be needed.
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Atresia may be found 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.
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. Your baby will be asleep.
An incision will be made in the belly. The damaged part of the intestine will be removed. The healthy ends of the intestine will be connected. The incision will be closed. Bandages will be placed over the area.
The intestine may not be able to be reconnected right away. An opening may be made in the skin and belly wall. The upper part of the remaining intestine is attached to this opening. This will allow waste to pass out of the body into an attached bag. This will let the lower intestine heal or lengthen enough to reconnect later.
It depends on how much repair is needed.
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care help.
The length of stay depends on how much repair was needed. Proper feeding, weight gain, and bowel function are needed before the baby can go home. This may take several weeks.
Right after the procedure, the staff may give:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your baby's risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your baby’s risk of infection such as:
It will take some time for full recovery. A special diet will be needed to make sure your baby is getting nutrition.
Call the doctor if your baby is not getting better or has:
Call for emergency medical service right away if your baby has:
If you think your baby has an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March of Dimes
March of Dimes Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
Intestinal atresia and stenosis in children. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/intestinal-atresia-and-stenosis. Accessed December 10, 2020.
Intestinal atresia or stenosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/intestinal-atresia-or-stenosis. Accessed December 10, 2020.
Surgical repair of the small bowel. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available at: http://chop.edu/treatments/surgical-repair-small-bowel-atresia#.VQMWfdJ4pcQ. Accessed December 10, 2020.
Vinocur DN, Lee EY, et al. Neonatal intestinal obstruction. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Jan;198(1):W1-10.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD