Meckel’s diverticulum is a common condition in which a small sac is attached to the intestinal wall, at the junction where the small and large intestines meet. The pouch is seen near the ileocecal valve and contains stomach and/or pancreatic tissue. The stomach tissue secretes hydrochloric acid that causes ulcers in the ileum. Thus it can become inflamed and obstruct the intestines and also cause bleeding occasionally.
Meckel’s diverticulum is difficult to diagnose as most of its symptoms including abdominal pain, cramps, and vomiting can occur due to several other conditions. Hence there are chances of misdiagnosis of the condition. In some people, a diagnosis of Meckel’s diverticulum is made during surgery for presumed appendicitis. When a normal appendix is confirmed, Meckel’s diverticulum is suspected.
Factors Affecting Treatment Choices
The best treatment method for a child with Meckel’s diverticulum is decided by the child’s doctor based on several factors. These include the following:
- The child’s age and medical history
- Overall health status of the child
- The extent of the complications
- The child’s tolerance for specific medications, therapies, or medical procedures
- The opinion of other health care professional involved in treating the child
- The preference and opinion of the child’s family
It is not uncommon for doctors to recommend surgery to remove a Meckel's diverticulum that is causing complications such as inflammation or bleeding. Patients who have intestinal obstruction will require surgery as early as possible.
The child will be under general anesthesia during this surgery. First, an incision is made in the child’s abdomen and the sac is removed. If the adjacent intestinal tissue is damaged, that portion of the small intestine is also removed. Then the loose ends of the intestines are joined together. The incision is then either stitched up or closed using special tape known as steri strips.
This surgery can also be performed laparoscopically. In laparoscopic surgery, a narrow tube with a camera at one end is inserted into the child’s abdomen via a small incision. The Meckel's diverticulum is then viewed and repaired via another minor incision.
Before the child is discharged from the hospital, the child's nurse or doctor will give clear instructions to the child’s caregiver regarding the child's medications, diet, activities and bathing while at home.
Prognosis or Outlook for Meckel's diverticulum
The long-term prognosis for patients with Meckel’s diverticulum is very good. Patients usually recover fully post treatment. Once a Meckel's diverticulum is successfully repaired, no long-term issues are usually seen.