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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.

What Causes Intussusception?

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.

Intussusception Causes in Infants and Children

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.

Intussusception Causes in Adults

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).

Intussusception Information

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