Intussusception (ultrasound)

Case contributed by Behrang Amini


Brought to the ER with a 6-hour history of excruciating abdominal pain. The pain is intermittent and is accompanied by vomiting.

Patient Data

Age: 2 years
Gender: Male

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. 

Case Discussion

Intussusception occurs when one segment of bowel is pulled into itself (or a neighboring 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. 

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