Causes of Intussusception
In children, intussusception may be caused by an intestinal obstruction, a viral infection, or an enlarged lymph gland. When the condition occurs in adults, it may be caused by things like adhesions, long-term diarrhea, and growths. In some cases, doctors are unable to identify what causes the condition.
Intussusception is a rare blockage or twisting of the intestine, which can be life threatening. Intussusception is most common among young children; it is rare in adults. The possible causes of intussusception will vary, depending on if it occurs in a child or an adult.
Possible causes of intussusception in infants and children can include:
- Viral infections, such as adenovirus
- Growth in the small bowel or colon (a polyp or tumor)
- Enlarged lymph gland.
In the past, some cases of intussusception appeared to be associated with a childhood vaccine for rotavirus called RotaShield®, a common cause of gastroenteritis (intestinal infection). That vaccine is no longer given. (A new rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq®, is now available.)
However, in most cases of the condition in children and infants, the causes of intussusception are not known.
Possible causes of this condition in adults can include:
- Benign or malignant (cancerous) growths
- Adhesions (scar-like tissue)
- Surgical scars in the small bowel or colon
- Motility disorders (problems with the movement of food through the digestive tract)
- Long-term diarrhea.
Some cases of intussusception have been associated with viral infections and in patients living with AIDS. Intussusception can also occur without any known cause (idiopathic).