Pyloric stenosis is a condition that affects the valve, called the pyloric muscle, between the stomach and the small intestine. The valve thickens, preventing food from moving into the small intestine. The baby feeds normally, but a few minutes after feeding has an episode of forceful vomiting. They will try to feed again with the same result until they become dehydrated and uncomfortable. Parents will often note that the vomiting starts mildly but becomes more projectile over a few days. This condition is fairly common, affecting about three in every 1,000 babies born in the United States and is more common in boys than girls.
Symptoms of pyloric stenosis typically begin very early in life, usually between the second and fourth week. If your doctor suspects pyloric stenosis, he or she will examine your baby by pressing the stomach area to feel for an enlarged pyloric muscle. If their suspicion is high, an ultrasound of the abdomen is ordered, as well as blood tests to check for dehydration.
Surgery is required to treat pyloric stenosis. If there is an electrolyte imbalance, IV fluids may be given before surgery. The surgery is performed through a small incision near the baby’s naval. The surgery is provides a permanent cure for the condition. After surgery, the baby will slowly begin to drink breast milk or formula while being monitored in the hospital. Once your baby can consume a normal amount of milk, he or she will be able to go home, usually in 1-2 days.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018
- Pyloric stenosis is an intestinal obstruction that affects about three in every 1,000 babies born in the US.
- It is most common it white, male first-born babies and is typically seen in the first 2-4 weeks after birth.
- Treatment is essential because dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can be life threatening in babies.
- Surgery is the usual treatment for pyloric stenosis and is considered a permanent cure.