UMEM Educational Pearls

You have successfully identified a patient with intussusception. It has been successfully reduced with an air enema on the first attempt by radiology. What do you do with the patient afterwards? Do you place them in the hospital on the general surgery team, observe in the ED or discharge them home?
Recurrence can occur in up to 10% of patients. Absolute indications for admission include perforation, failed reduction and identification of a lead point that requires further investigation. Relative indications for admission include prolonged prodrome, bloody stools or dehydration.
A study in Pediatrics looked at 80 patients over a 2 year period with intussusception. 46 patients had been successfully reduced with an air enema. 30 patients were discharged from the emergency room. One patient returned and required a repeat enema reduction and 6 returned for viral related symptoms. 16 patients were observed and discharged within 23 hours. These patients had no interventions done during their observation period. Median length of stay for those discharged from the ED was 6.8 hours (compared to 5.4 hours for admitted patients). The cost of patients discharged from the emergency department was much less compared to those admitted.
This study suggests that after successful reduction in a well appearing child, a short post-reduction observation period may be safe. Other studies have suggested a 6-7 hour period of observation compared to 23 hours.


Mehul V, Ravel PC, Minneci K et al. Improving Quality and Efficiency for Intussusception Management After Successful Enema Reduction. Pediatrics. 2015; 136 (5); e1345-e1352.