Meckel diverticulum is a small pouch in the wall of the intestine, near the junction of the small and large intestines. The pouch is a remnant of tissue from the prenatal development of the digestive system. It is not made of the same type of tissue as the small intestine, but instead, is made of the type of tissue found in the stomach or the pancreas.
The tissue in Meckel diverticulum can produce acid, just as the tissue of the stomach does. The intestinal lining is sensitive to being in contact with acid, and eventually an ulcer can form. The ulcer can perforate (rupture), causing waste products from the intestine to leak into the abdomen. A serious abdominal infection called peritonitis can result. The intestine can also become obstructed (blocked) by Meckel diverticulum.
Meckel diverticulum is the most common birth defect of the digestive system. It is present in about 2 percent of the population.
When the intestine develops an ulcer, significant bleeding can result, causing anemia (low numbers of red blood cells in the bloodstream). If enough blood is lost, a child may go into shock, which is a life-threatening situation. A serious infection may also occur if the intestine perforates and leaks waste products into the abdomen.
The symptom seen most often with Meckel diverticulum is the passage of a large amount of dark red blood from the rectum. There may also be brick-colored, jelly-like stool present. Passing the blood is usually painless, although some children may experience abdominal pain.If your child passes blood or a bloody stool from the rectum, you should contact your child's doctor as soon as possible.Symptoms of Meckel diverticulum may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Please consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, imaging tests may be done to evaluate the intestinal tract. Diagnostic procedures for Meckel diverticulum may include the following:
Specific treatment for Meckel diverticulum will be determined by your child's doctor based on the following:
The extent of the problem
Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the problem
The opinion of the health care providers involved in the child's care
Your opinion and preference
Doctors will usually recommend that a Meckel diverticulum that is causing symptoms (such as bleeding) be surgically removed. Under general anesthesia, an incision will be made in the abdomen and the abnormal tissue will be removed. Stitches and/or a special tape called steri strips will be used to close the incision when the operation is completed.
Your child's doctor or nurse will give you instructions to follow regarding your child's diet, pain medications, bathing, and activity at home.
There are usually no long-term problems after Meckel diverticulum is repaired.
Our gastroenterology experts provide expert diagnosis and treatments for children with digestive, liver and nutrition disorders.
Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases
Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.
Around Thanksgiving during her sophomore year of high school, Katheryn felt like throwing up after dinner. She began to throw up regularly, but frustratingly didn't know why. After seeing multiple doctors, Katheryn was finally diagnosed correctly.
Read More of Katheryn's Story
Children's uses magnetic resonance enterography, a radiation-free imaging scan, to provide more information about Crohn disease and irritable bowel disease.
Children’s National Health System offers a three year fellowship training program in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Our goal is to prepare fellows to become academic pediatric gastroenterologists.
Learn more about how our Urgent Care Fellowship is designed to prepare physicians for a career in pediatric urgent care medicine as excellent clinicians, administrators, academic thinkers and leaders in the field.
Located within Prince George's County, the Upper Marlboro Outpatient Center offers a range of care by Children’s National experts. Like the rest of our outpatient centers in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, we provide specialty care for children of all ages at this location.