Fever as a Presenting Symptom in Children Evaluated for Ileocolic Intussusception: The Experience of a Large Tertiary Care Pediatric Hospital

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Abstract

Background

Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in young children, and delayed diagnosis may lead to bowel perforation. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of fever in patients with ileocolic intussusception and to determine its utility as a predictive symptom.

Methods

This was a 3-year retrospective study, at a tertiary care center, of children aged 1 month to 6 years, presenting with possible intussusception. Charts were reviewed for clinical signs and symptoms at presentation, and all diagnostic studies were retrieved. A pediatric radiologist reviewed all ultrasounds.

Results

A total of 488 ultrasounds were performed on suspicion of intussusception. In 30 patients with confirmed ileocolic intussusception, mean age was 27 months and all were successfully reduced by air enema. Of 118 patients with fever, 2 had confirmed intussusception, 1 with pneumonia and 1 with acute otitis media, compared with 116 febrile patients with negative ultrasounds (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Traditional teaching is that intussusception presents as intermittent colicky abdominal pain, red currant jelly stool, vomiting, and a palpable abdominal mass, but it is important to remember that this classic triad is a very late finding and this condition should be recognized before the development of these findings. The concurrence of fever can help to rule out the possibility of intussusception and prompt the health care professional to search diligently for alternative infectious etiologies but cannot eliminate the possibility, especially when other findings suggestive of intussusception are present.

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