Pediatric Intussusception: Decreased Surgical Risk with Timely Transfer to a Children’s Hospital

Introduction: Intussusception is a potentially lifethreatening condition, and a frequent cause of bowel obstruction during the first two years of life. We hypothesized that patients who were transferred from outside community hospitals, or OSH, without tertiary care capabilities for pediatric services to a large academic children’s hospital with intussusception were more likely to require operative management for their intussusception than those who were directly admitted.

Methods: The electronic medical record was queried for patients presenting to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago with a diagnosis of intussusception (July 1st, 2009-July 1st, 2014). Age, sex, symptom duration, radiologic management, and surgical care were recorded. OSH and transfer reports were analyzed for those patients that presented as a transfer. Statistical analysis was performed.

Results: We identified 270 patients with intussusception. 232 (80%) were successfully treated non-surgically. 58 (20%) required surgical management. Of the patients requiring surgery, there were 38 reductions (24 laparoscopic, 14 open) and 20 bowel resections (1 laparoscopic, 19 open). Of those patients requiring surgery, 37 (63.8%) had presented as a transfer from an OSH. We found that transferred patients, requiring surgery, spent a mean 7.77 hours at the OSH compared to 4.03 hours for the transferred patients that did not require surgery (p=0.0188). There was no significant difference in transport time (p=0.44).

Conclusion: In conclusion, we identified the amount of time patients spend at hospitals without pediatric surgical capabilities as an independent risk factor necessitating surgical management of intussusception. These data suggest that patients with intussusception who present to hospitals without pediatric radiology or pediatric surgery, should be transferred in an expedited fashion. In the event of a failed enema reduction at an OSH, the transport of the patient should not be delayed as this may result in a higher likelihood of surgical management.


Brian P Blackwood*, Christina M Theodorou, Ferdynand Hebal and Catherine J Hunter M

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