Munson Health
Intestinal Atresia

Back to Document

by Jones P

(Pyloric Atresia; Duodenal Atresia; Ilial Atresia; Jejunal Atresia; Colonic Atresia; Atresia, Intestinal)



A prenatal ultrasound will be able to detect extra fluid around the baby. The doctor may suspect the extra fluid is due to atresia. More tests will be planned after birth to confirm the diagnosis.
After birth, your child’s doctor will review your child’s symptoms. Images of the intestines will be taken to confirm the diagnosis and locate the atresia. Tests that will help create images of the intestines include:
Some types of atresia are associated with other health problems. To look for other related problems the doctor may order:
  • An echocardiogram of the heart
  • Genetic screening such as amniocentesis —before birth
  • Images of the kidney
  • A sweat chloride test to check for cystic fibrosis


Intestinal atresia cannot be treated until after birth.
Treatment will include surgery to repair the intestine and supportive care.

Nutrition Support

Nutrition normally enters the body through the intestines. Since the intestines are not working properly, nutrition will be delivered directly into the blood stream. Your baby will have an IV or small bellybutton tube. Nutrition will be delivered through the tube before and after surgery.
After surgery, the intestines will need a few days or weeks to heal. Small amounts of breast milk or formula will be slowly introduced to your baby. IV nutrition will continue to support your baby during this transition. The IV will be removed when your baby can tolerate enough breast milk or formula.

Remove Gas and Fluids

Fluid and gas can build up in the intestine. They can cause uncomfortable swelling in the abdomen and vomiting. The fluid and gas can cause complications during surgery.
A tube will be passed through the nose and into the stomach. The tube will drain fluids and gas out of the stomach and intestines. This will relieve some of the pressure in the abdomen.


Surgery will be needed to remove the damaged part of the intestine. The healthy parts of the intestine will be reconnected. Additional steps may depend on the amount of intestine that is damaged. A large area may need more than one surgery.
A feeding tube may be placed through the abdomen. This tube will help drain the stomach and deliver food.
Surgery in the lower intestine may also require a colostomy. The upper part of the remaining intestine is attached to an opening in the abdominal wall. This will allow waste to pass out of the body and give the lower intestines time to heal.
Most babies do well after surgery. Follow-up care will ensure that the intestines are working as expected.


American Academy of Family Physicians

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



About Kids Health

Health Canada



Intestinal atresia. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at: . Accessed August 14, 2013.

Intestinal atresia or stenosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 29, 2013. Accessed August 14, 2013.

Intestinal atresia and stenosis. Boston Children’s Hospital website. Available at: . Published 2011. Accessed August 14, 2013.

Intestinal atresia and stenosis. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at: . Updated August 2010. Accessed August 14, 2013.


Revision Information