What is intestinal atresia?
Intestinal atresia (absence of a normal opening) is the failure of a portion of the intestinal tract to
completely form. It occurs most frequently in the ileum (lower part of the small intestine). It can
also occur in the duodenum (part of the intestine that empties from the stomach), jejunum
(second part of the intestine extending from the duodenum to the ileum), or the colon (large
intestine). Diagnosis can be made by ultrasound during pregnancy or can present on the first to
second day of life. Abdominal distension (inflation) increases, the infant fails to pass stools, and,
finally, feedings are vomited. The cause of intestinal atresia is not known.
What are the types of intestinal atresia?
Duodenal atresia can often be diagnosed prenatally. After delivery, the infant soon begins
vomiting. An x-ray of the abdomen will usually diagnose the problem. Almost one third of babies
with duodenal atresia have Down syndrome.
Diagram showing normal Diagrams of two types of duodenal atresia. In each diagram
stomach and intestines 1=stomach, 2=the part of the duodenum before the atresia,
3=the site of the atresia, and 4=the part of the duodenum after
the atresia. Note that the part of the duodenum before the
atresia is dilated and the part of the duodenum after the atresia
Atresias can also occur in the jejunum and ileum. There are several different types of jejunal and
ileal atresia: they can range from having a small area of blockage or web to missing large
sections of the intestines.
Intestinal atresia: Intestinal atresia: Intestinal atresia: Intestnal atresia: Multiple areas of
mucosal web fibrous cord mesenteric gap "apple peel" type intestinal atresia
defect of deformity
How is intestinal atresia treated?
The intestinal atresia is resected (cut out) and a primary anastomosis (surgical formation of a
passage) is performed. Sometimes a colostomy may need to be created. Depending on the type
of atresia, the baby may be in the hospital for longer than one to two months. Your pediatric
surgeon will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s surgery.