I struggled to find PEM resources for my CT3 year, despite the variety of excellent resources out there. I hope this website will help point you in the right direction. I'm not a PEM expert, but am following the guidance CEM have issued (in the form of a syllabus) to put together this page. This page is not endorsed by CEM, and any mistakes are mine.

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Monday, 24 March 2014


Intussusception is a diagnosis I always worry about missing. I've seen it a few times - thankfully when I've been in a centre with paediatric surgery on site. There doesn't seem to be a big tip about how to diagnose it - except to always think of it as a differential. The few cases I've seen have presented with inconsolable abdominal pain with lots and lots of crying - and that has been the predominant symptom.

- Happens mostly between 3months to 6 years
- Most common 3-12 months but can happen in elderly and adult patients
- 60% of cases are <1 year, 90% <2 years
- Boys: girls 3:2


A part of the bowel is pulled into the distal lumen, and peristalsed forward. The bit that is pulled (the prolapsed part) is called the intussusceptum. The bit of bowel that receives the intussusceptum is called the intussuscipiens. This process is likened to a piece of bowel telescoping in on itself.
Venous return gets compromised causing swelling, and restricted blood flow. Eventually arterial supply to the bowel is interrupted and ischaemia and necrosis happens.

This can occur anywhere:
ileocolic - most common (75-95%)
ileoileocolic - second most common
There is often a "lead point" that causes the intusussception - maybe a hypertrophied Peyer’s Patch. In adults a lesion is more likely. It is a complication of HSP in 2-6% of cases - generally in children >2yrs of age. HSP related intussusception is more likely to be ileocolic.

Clinical Features
- Episodes of abdominal pain - often 15- 20 minutes apart.
- Frequency and severity increase as intestinal oedema increases.
- Vomiting happens in some children. It may be billious.
- There is blood in the stools. In 75% of people with non visible blood stools, occult blood is positve. Jelly stools only happen in 50% of cases.
- Diarrhoea
- The classic triad of colicky abdominal pain, vomiting and redcurrent jelly stools - in 21% of cases only

InvestigationsAbdominal x-rays may demonstrate a soft tissue mass (typically in the right upper quadrant in children) with a bowel obstruction proximal to it. They are negative in 20% of cases! Some suggest if there is no air in the caecum, intusussception is more likely.

Abdominal ultrasound in comparison has 98–100% sensitivity and 88% specificity with a negative predictive value of 100%

Air enema
More likely to need operative intervention if:
  Intussusception present >48 hours
  Age <3 months
  Age >5 years (higher likelihood of pathologic lead point)
Even after successful nonoperative reduction the recurrence risk is 10%.



  1. David Marcus (@EMIMDoc) tweeted at 4:56 PM on Sun, Mar 30, 2014:
    Lu: Intussusception presents with lethargy 30-40% of the time. Sometimes without obvious GI symptoms. #resus14 #FOAMped

  2. Matt (@themattmak) tweeted at 11:56 AM on Wed, Apr 09, 2014:
    Dance's Sign in Intussusception - empty right iliac fossa as caecum rides up into the upper abdomen. #FOAMed #PaedsTips

    Get the official Twitter app at https://twitter.com/download

  3. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mn-Xmz0xIN4V5GS77anUxyTe83U0wMXcEu_oNMPYv8Y/mobilebasic?pli=1

  4. dontforgetthebubbles.com/dark-red-stools-another-intussusception/#more-5906

  5. Intussusception
    Billious vomit – as obstruction after CBD
    Might feel a sausage shaped mass
    Dance’s sign
    “Something’s not right” when you look at the child
    Need an NG tube!
    Immediate transfer

  6. http://pedemmorsels.com/intussusception-altered-mental-status/

  7. Billious vomit – as obstruction after CBD
    Might feel a sausage shaped mass
    Dance’s sign
    “Something’s not right” when you look at the child
    Need an NG tube!
    Immediate transfer

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