Pediatric Duodenal Atresia or Stenosis in Infants

What is duodenal atresia or stenosis?

The duodenum is the first portion of the small intestine that follows the stomach. Duodenal atresia or stenosis occurs when the intestine does not develop normally and leads to a blockage in the continuity of the intestine. The incidence of duodenal atresia or stenosis in infants occurs in 1 in 6,000 births and is seen more frequently in infants with Down's syndrome or Trisomy 21.

How is duodenal atresia or stenosis diagnosed?

Most cases of duodenal atresia are diagnosed on prenatal ultrasound which reveals polyhydramnios (extra fluid in the amniotic sac) and a dilated fluid filled stomach. At birth, infants may have vomiting with inability to feed.

Duodenal atresia or stenosis treatment

Duodenal atresia or stenosis is treated surgically. A new connection between the upper duodenum and distal duodenum must be created to bypass the blockage. The operation may be performed either through an upper abdominal transverse incision, by minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopy using small incisions which become barely visible with age. Other advantages of minimally invasive procedures in infants include less pain, less scarring, shorter hospital stays, and fewer problems with scar tissue leading to intestinal blockages in the future compared to open abdominal surgery.

Children's National offers both treatment options and assess with families to determine the best care plan for each individual patient.

Children's Team

Children's Team


DuPlessis A

Adre Du Plessis

Director, Fetal Medicine Institute
Division Chief, Fetal and Transitional Medicine
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"The thing I like most about Children's National is that they don't just take great care of the sick children, but they also take great care of the whole family."




Whether your infant has arrived prematurely or has a critical illness, the Children’s National team assists in coordinating every service you and your baby need, including consultations, assessments, emergency treatments, and continuing care.

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