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Meckel’s Diverticulum

What is Meckel’s diverticulum?

Meckel's diverticulum is a congenital anomaly of the gastrointestinal tract, where a pouch-like structure called a diverticulum protrudes from the wall of the small intestine, typically near the junction of the small intestine and the large intestine (ileocecal valve). This diverticulum is a remnant of embryonic development and is present in approximately 2% of the population.

What causes Meckel’s diverticulum?

Meckel's diverticulum is caused by incomplete closure of the omphalomesenteric duct during fetal development. The omphalomesenteric duct, also known as the vitelline duct, is a temporary structure that connects the developing embryo to the yolk sac. Failure of the duct to close completely by the time of birth can lead to the formation of Meckel's diverticulum.

What are the symptoms of Meckel’s diverticulum?

Meckel's diverticulum may not cause any symptoms and is often discovered incidentally during imaging studies or surgery for other conditions.

 

However, when symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, typically in the lower abdomen

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding, which may present as bright red or maroon-coloured stools (hematochezia)

  • Anemia due to chronic or recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding

  • Intestinal obstruction, if the diverticulum becomes inflamed or twisted

  • Inflammation of the diverticulum (diverticulitis) or perforation, leading to peritonitis (infection of the abdominal cavity)

How to treat Meckel’s diverticulum?

Treatment of Meckel's diverticulum depends on the presence and severity of symptoms.

 

Options may include:

  • Observation: Asymptomatic Meckel's diverticulum may not require treatment and can be monitored with periodic check-ups.


  • Surgical removal (diverticulectomy): If the diverticulum is symptomatic or if complications such as bleeding or obstruction occur, surgical removal of the diverticulum may be recommended. This procedure is typically performed laparoscopically or through open surgery.

  • Management of complications: If Meckel's diverticulum causes complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia, or intestinal obstruction, appropriate treatment measures may be taken to address these issues. This may include blood transfusions, medications, or surgical intervention as needed.

 

 

It's important for individuals with Meckel's diverticulum to receive regular medical follow-up, especially if they have a history of symptoms or complications, to monitor for any changes and ensure appropriate management. Prompt medical attention should be sought if symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or signs of intestinal obstruction occur.

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