What Is Meckel’s
sac or pouch that develops at a weak point in the intestines is known as
a diverticulum. Various
types of diverticula can develop as you age. In some instances, people are born
with a diverticulum in their intestines. This condition is called Meckel’s
diverticulum usually develops between the 5th and 7th weeks of fetal development.
Because the condition is present at birth, it is classified as a congenital
What Are the Symptoms of
of Meckel’s diverticulum are related to the type of diverticulum that is
present. In 95 percent of people with this condition, the diverticulum that
develops is made up of intestinal cells. As a result, the diverticulum
functions as a normal part of the intestine. This type of diverticulum may not
cause any significant symptoms.
instances, the diverticulum may be made up of stomach or pancreatic cells. When
this occurs, the diverticulum will function differently from the intestines.
This may result in significant symptoms, including:
of the intestines
into the intestines, resulting in bloody stools
in the intestines
or discomfort that ranges from mild to severe
symptoms that occur often relate to how old a person is when Meckel’s
diverticulum is discovered. For example, infants with the condition are more
likely to have a blockage in their intestines. Intestinal bleeding and bloody
stools are more common in older children with the condition.
of Meckel’s diverticulum are identified and treated in children before the age
of 10. The remaining cases are typically diagnosed in adolescence.
may cause sporadic symptoms. When this occurs, blood in the stool may be noted
for several days. This will be followed by a period of normal stool (no blood).
Erratic symptoms can make the condition difficult for your doctor to diagnose.
cases, excessive bleeding from Meckel’s diverticulum may occur and can become
life-threatening. If this happens, emergency surgery may be needed to remove
How Is Meckel’s
If you or
your child has symptoms of Meckel’s diverticulum, your physician will recommend
several different tests to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests will be ordered to determine if your red blood
cell count is low. This will help your doctor determine if bleeding is
occurring in the intestines. In addition, your doctor may order a stool smear. In this test, a sample of
your stool will be analyzed to see if it contains blood.
may also order a technetium scan.
This test uses a dye that can be viewed with a special camera. The dye will be
injected into your veins and will collect around the diverticulum. This will
allow your doctor to see the pouch in your intestines. The results of this test
can confirm the presence of Meckel’s diverticulum.
may have active bleeding in their intestines as a result of Meckel’s
diverticulum. This may make it difficult to view the diverticulum through the
technetium scan. If this occurs, your doctor may need to order additional tests
to confirm diagnosis. A colonoscopy or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy may
be ordered. These tests use a camera to visualize the diverticulum.
How Is Meckel’s
have Meckel’s diverticulum but do not have any symptoms will not require
treatment. Those who experience symptoms due to the condition may need to have
surgery to have the diverticulum removed. Surgery typically includes removal of
the diverticulum and repair of the intestines.
intestines have been damaged as a result of the diverticulum, the damaged part
of the intestine may also need to be removed. People who experience blood loss
as a result of Meckel’s diverticulum may also require iron therapy or blood
transfusions to replace lost blood.
correct Meckel’s diverticulum is typically associated with a low risk of
complications. However, some complications can arise following surgery. In
particular, scar tissue may develop following the removal of the diverticulum.
This may cause a blockage of the intestines. Blockage of the intestines can be
life-threatening and may require additional surgery to remove the blockage.
What Is the Long-Term
Outlook for Meckel’s Diverticulum?
long-term outlook for people who seek treatment for Meckel’s diverticulum is
quite good. Surgical removal of the diverticulum typically results in normal
intestinal function. Surgery also stops blood loss. People who have surgery for
Meckel’s diverticulum can expect a full recovery.