Meckel diverticulum is a pouch of extra tissue in the wall of the small intestine. It's the most common birth defect of the gastrointestinal tract.
In most people, Meckel diverticulum does not cause problems or require treatment. One serious complication, called Meckel diverticulitis, is an infection and inflammation of the pouch. Meckel diverticulitis requires prompt medical attention.
Meckel diverticulum develops before birth. It is created by a section of tissue that acts as a link to the umbilical cord in early development. Normally, this tissue shrinks and is reabsorbed by the 7th week of pregnancy. In Meckel diverticulum the tissue remains, creating a pouch or bulge in the lower part of the small intestine.
It is not clear why this tissue is not reabsorbed, but it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Meckel diverticulum occurs more often in males than females.
Complications are also more likely to develop in male children under 2 years old.
Most people with Meckel diverticulum do not have symptoms.
Meckel diverticulum that is infected or inflamed can cause:
Meckel diverticulitis can cause sudden and severe symptoms that mimic
in lower abdomen that worsens with sneezing, coughing, and deep breathing
Loss of appetite
If you have symptoms, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may suspect Meckel diverticulum based on your symptoms, but it can be difficult to diagnose, especially in adults.
Meckel diverticulum without symptoms is usually found incidentally during another procedure.
may be used in some cases when diagnosis is more difficult. If Meckel diverticulum is found during this test, it may be removed.
If you are experiencing complications, such as bleeding, your doctor will likely recommend surgical removal of your Meckel diverticulum. In many cases, the surgery can be minimally invasive. This method uses small incisions and specialized tools instead of a larger incision and open surgery.
If the Meckel diverticulum is not causing problems but has been discovered, it may be removed to prevent potential complications. Surgery will depend on your overall health and risk factors. In some, removal may not be necessary.
There are no current guidelines to prevent Meckel diverticulum since the cause is unknown.
Meckel diverticulum. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/diverticular-disease/meckel-diverticulum. Updated June 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.