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Pyloric Stenosis

Pyloric stenosis is a condition that can cause your baby to vomit forcefully and often and may cause other problems such as dehydration and salt and fluid imbalances. Immediate treatment for pyloric stenosis is extremely important.

Pyloric stenosis is a narrowing of the pylorus, the lower part of the stomach through which food and other stomach contents pass to enter the small intestine. Also called infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, pyloric stenosis is a form of gastric outlet obstruction, which means a blockage from the stomach to the intestines. It is fairly common —affecting about 3 out of 1,000 babies in the United States. It's about four times more likely to occur in firstborn male infants and also has been shown to run in families — if a parent had pyloric stenosis, then an infant has up to a 20% risk of developing it. Pyloric stenosis occurs more commonly in Caucasian infants. Most infants who develop symptoms of pyloric stenosis are usually between 3 to 5 weeks.

Causes:

  • Progressive thickening of the pylorus after birth
  • Symptoms occur when the stomach can no longer empty

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms of pyloric stenosis generally begin around 3 weeks of age. They include:

  • Projectile vomiting of clear or white fluid
  • Hungry after vomiting
  • Fewer, smaller stools or constipation or stools with mucus
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Dehydration

Treatment:

After either an ultrasound or barium swallow, the baby may be given IV fluids for hydration. Surgical treatment is then performed. Called a pyloromyotomy, the thickened muscles around the pyloris of the stomach are cut, and the muscles are spread apart. This can be done laparoscopically or in an open fashion.

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