We understand that it can be very upsetting to learn that your baby was born with an intestinal obstruction. We look at the diagnosis as the very first step in determining the best treatment plan for your child. Here's how we can help your child:
1. At the Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation at Boston Children's Hospital, we have the latest innovations and most up-to-date clinical information at our disposal to ensure the best possible outcome for your baby.
2. Our physicians are focused on family-centered care: From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's physical and psychosocial needs.
Surgery is often the best option for treating intestinal obstructions. Our surgeons are specialized pediatric surgeons with lots of experience working with newborns.
What happens during surgery?
First, your baby's surgery team will make sure that he is stable enough for surgery, and continue to monitor his breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, fluids and other vital signs throughout the surgery.
Next, we'll give your baby medicine to help him sleep. Depending on the location of the obstruction in your baby's intestine, he may have a bloated abdomen. If this is the case, the doctor will pass a thin tube down his mouth or nose down into his stomach to remove the contents and relieve the pressure.
Then the surgeon will make an incision in your baby's abdomen, and remove the affected part of the intestine, taking care to leave as much of your baby's healthy intestine in place as possible. Then she will reconnect your baby's intestines.
What happens after surgery?
After surgery, your baby may receive nutrition (a special, easily digested formula) through an IV, and our team will monitor him carefully to assess how well his intestines are healing. When the time is right, we'll transition him to fewer IV feedings and more oral or tube feedings, with the goal of weaning him off of IV feedings completely.
How long will this take?
Unfortunately, there's no way to know in advance. This depends on how much of your baby's small intestines his surgeons had to remove, and how well the remaining intestines are working.
Some babies are able to leave the hospital in a week, other babies develop short bowel syndrome and might stay on IV feedings for years. Sometimes too, babies will progress from the IV feedings to tube feedings.
Treatments for small bowel syndrome include a groundbreaking surgical procedure developed by Children's doctors and intestinal transplant.
Your child's healthcare team will monitor your child carefully – whether he's here at the hospital or coming in for regular follow-up visits - to determine how well his respond after treatment. And please remember that we're always here to answer any questions you might have.
Coping and support
No parent wants her child to be ill, and it's important to remember that you and your family aren't alone. Many families have been down this path, and there's a lot of support available here at Children's for you and your family. Here are some of the ways we can help:
Patient education: From the office visit to pre-op to the recovery room, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child's treatment and help answer any questions you may have — How long will I be separated from my child during surgery? What will the operating room be like? They will also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Children's.
Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose child has been treated for intestinal atresia or stenosis? We can put you in touch with other families who have been through similar experiences and can share with you their experience at Children's.
Faith-based support: If you are in need of spiritual support, we will help connect you with the Children's chaplaincy. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and United Church of Christ traditions who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your hospital experience.
Social work: Our clinical social workers have helped many other families in your situation. Your social worker can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child's diagnosis, stresses relating to coping with illness and dealing with financial difficulties.
Visit our For Patients and Families page for all you need to know about:
- getting to Children's
- navigating the hospital experience
- resources that are available for your family