Background: The association of a rotavirus vaccine and intussusception has renewed interest in understanding the incidence, clinical presentation and outcome of intussusception.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of all patients diagnosed with intussusception at Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne over a 6.5-year period (1 January 1995–30 June 2001) was conducted using patients identified by a medical record database (ICD-9-CM code 560.0 1993–1997; ICD-10-CM code 56.1 1998–2001). Patient profile, clinical presentation, diagnosis methods, treatment and outcome were analyzed and compared to data previously reported on children with intussusception at the same hospital during 1962–1968.
Results: The hospitalization rate for primary idiopathic intussusception increased marginally from 0.19 to 0.27 per 1000 live births during the period 1962–1968 to 1995–2001. Most patients (80%) were <12 months of age (median age 7 months, range 2–72 months). The combination of abdominal pain, lethargy and vomiting was reported in 78% of infants. Air enema confirmed the diagnosis of intussusception in 186 of 191 cases (97%) and air reduction was successful in most cases (82%). Factors associated with increased risk of intestinal resection included abdominal distension (32%), bowel obstruction on abdominal X-ray (27%) and hypovolemic shock (40%). No mortality was observed in the present study.
Conclusions: Over the past 40 years at Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne the hospitalization rate due to primary idiopathic intussusception has marginally increased from 0.19 to 0.27 per 1000 live births. Diagnosis and treatment using air enema has been highly successful, resulting in a reduction in patients requiring surgery and reduced hospital stays.