Your or your child's doctor will start by getting a history of the symptoms of the problem. He or she may be able to feel a sausage-shaped lump in the abdomen. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order:

  • Ultrasound or other abdominal imaging. An ultrasound, X-ray or computerized tomography (CT) scan may reveal intestinal obstruction caused by intussusception. Imaging will typically show a "bull's-eye," representing the intestine coiled within the intestine. Abdominal imaging also can show if the intestine has been torn (perforated).
  • Air or barium enema. An air or barium enema is basically enhanced imaging of the colon. During the procedure, the doctor will insert air or liquid barium into the colon through the rectum.

    In addition, an air or barium enema can actually fix intussusception 90 percent of the time in children, and no further treatment is needed. A barium enema can't be used if the intestine is torn.

Dec. 19, 2015
  1. Anatomic Problems of the Lower GI Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/anatomic-colon/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed Sept. 11, 2015.
  2. Marx JA, et al., eds. Gastrointestinal disorders. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 4, 2015.
  3. Kitigawa S, et al. Intussusception in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 10, 2015.
  4. Feldman M, et al. Intestinal obstruction. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 4, 2015.
  5. Bordeianou L, et al. Epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnosis of mechanical small bowel obstruction in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 10, 2015.
  6. Stephenson D, et al. Intussusception after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2014;10:666.
  7. Lindor RA, et al. Adult intussusception: Presentation, management, and outcomes of 148 patients. The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2012;43:1.
  8. McKean SC, et al. Peritonitis and intra-abdominal abscess. In: Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine. New York, N.Y: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Sept. 13, 2015.
  9. Stone C, et al., eds. Shock. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=385&Sectionid=40357225. Accessed September 12, 2015.