Table of Contents
What is pyloric stenosis?
Pyloric stenosis is a medical condition. It is a narrowing of the opening between the stomach and the small intestine. That space is called the pylorus. It often occurs in babies younger than 6 months. It is more common in boys than girls.
Symptoms of pyloric stenosis
Vomiting is the primary symptom. It usually starts around 3 weeks of age. Projective vomiting is common. The vomiting occurs after each feeding or some feedings. The baby is still hungry after vomiting. Other symptoms can include:
- Stomach pain.
- Constant hunger.
- Poor weight gain, weight loss.
- Wave-like motion of the stomach after feeding or right before vomiting starts.
What causes pyloric stenosis?
The condition is caused by a thickening of muscles around the pylorus. This prevents the stomach from passing on its contents to the small intestine.
An exact reason some babies have pylorus stenosis is unclear. It could be hereditary. Parents who had the condition can pass it on. Rick factor can increase a baby’s chance of having it. These include certain antibiotics, too much acid in the top part of the small intestine, and certain diseases, such as diabetes.
How is pyloric stenosis diagnosed?
If your baby is vomiting a lot, see his or her doctor. Your doctor may diagnose it with a physical exam, imaging test, and blood test. Physical signs include dehydration (dry skin and mouth, few tears when crying, and dry diapers). Other physical signs include a swollen stomach. Your doctor may order a barium X-ray to look into your baby’s stomach. This is an X-ray with dye. It highlights certain parts of the stomach and intestine. The X-ray may show an olive-shaped mass in the upper stomach. A blood test can detect dehydration.
Can pyloric stenosis be prevented or avoided?
Pyloric stenosis cannot be prevented or avoided.
Pyloric stenosis treatment
Treatment requires surgery. The surgery is designed to widen the pylorus. It is called pyloromyotomy. In most cases, surgeon will give the baby anesthesia to sleep during the surgery. If that is not possible, your doctor may use an endoscope for the procedure. This is a tiny device with a balloon at the end. It is inserted down your baby’s throat. The balloon is widened to expand the pylorus. In some cases, the condition is treated with a feeding tube or medicine that relaxes the pylorus.
Living with pyloric stenosis
The condition is generally caught early. So there are no long-term problems to live with. The exception would be the use of a feeding tube. Your doctor can tell you how long your baby may need the tube.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How do I tell the difference between pyloric stenosis, acid reflux and flu symptoms?
- Is my baby in pain when he or she is not vomiting?
- What is the prognosis after surgery?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.