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The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) calls intussusception a serious problem with the intestine or bowel. The intestines are part of the digestive system. (Read about "Digestive System") What happens is one portion of the tube of the bowel slides into another, sort of like a telescope when it is collapsed. The result is less blood flow into the area and quite often an intestinal blockage.
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 months get intussusception most often, with boys being affected twice as often, according to AAFP. The cause is often unknown. Though less common, adults can be affected as well. In adults, there is often an underlying medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis or lymphoma. (Read about "Irritable Bowel Syndrome" "Gastroparesis" "Lymphoma")
Abdominal cramping is common in intussusception. One indication in babies is that the baby is crying and pulling their knees up to their chests. Other symptoms according to AAFP are:
A barium enema is a common means of diagnosing and in many cases is also the treatment for intussusception. Surgery is sometimes required to free the portion of the intestine that is trapped.
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