Gastroschisis

What is gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis is an opening in the abdominal wall - the muscles and skin of the abdomen — that appears during fetal development. Normally, during early development, the intestines, stomach and liver protrude to the outside of the body. As the fetus grows, these organs are "pulled in" and the abdominal wall forms around them. In gastroschisis, the stomach and small and large intestines are not enclosed in the abdominal wall and appear outside of the body.

The opening may become smaller and may tighten around the intestine, or the bowel may twist around itself. This can lead to poor function of the bowel after your baby is born, as well as long-term feeding problems. The cause of gastroschisis is still unknown.

How we care for gastroschisis

At Boston Children's Hospital, we specialize in the treatment of children with gastroschisis in our Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation (CAIR), which includes a team of experts with decades of experience in caring for children with intestinal problems and their families. Our specialists include:

  • physicians trained in surgery, gastroenterology and nutrition
  • registered dieticians
  • nurse practitioners
  • nurses
  • pharmacist
  • social worker

Our areas of innovation for gastroschisis

The team at Boston Children's actively participates in research focused on the treatment and understanding of gastroschisis and has made major contributions to the field. Two of our physicians developed the serial transverse enteroplasty procedure (STEP), a surgical technique developed that has been used on patients who have a condition called short bowel syndrome that is associated with gastroschisis.