Intussusception on ultrasound
A 2-year-old boy is brought to the ER with a 6-hour history of excruciating abdominal pain. The pain is intermittent and is accompanied by vomiting.
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Transverse sonography of a palpable abdominal mass shows a swirled pattern of alternating hyperechogenicity and hypoechogenicity. This represents the alternating layers of mucosa, muscularis, and serosa seen in intussusception giving it a 'target' appearance.
Intussusception occurs when one segment of bowel is pulled into itself (or a neighbouring loop of bowel) by peristalsis.
It is an important cause of an acute abdomen in children and merits timely ultrasound examination and reduction to preclude significant sequelae including bowel necrosis.
Intussusception may also occur in the adult population where it is usually caused by a focal lesion acting as a lead point.