The "simple tube" of the gastrointestinal tract and its associated organs have many different tract and organ specific abnormalities. Note that as this system begins function (digestively) postnatally, unless there is a determined genetic history within the family, several abnormalities only become evident postnatally. Due to the complex nature (different germ layer contributions, organogenisis) of the growth, elongation and folding of the tract, there are also several mechanical disorders of folding (rotation).
The mouth (cleft lip, cleft palate) is part of the digestive tract, but more accurately reflects an abnormality of face formation. (More? Face Abnormalities).
The pie diagram shows the relative contribution of major gastrointestinal tract abnormalities as a percentage of the total number of congenital abnormalities in Australia beween 1981 - 92.
Note that the digestive system represents approximately 6% of all major congenital abnormalities.
One of the most common abnormalities occurring in (2% - 3% population) is Meckel's Diverticulum.
Page Links: Introduction | Some Recent Findings | GIT Lumen Abnormalities | Intestinal Malrotation | Development Overview | Carnegie Stages Comparison | Situs Inversus Viscera | Meckel's Diverticulum | Intestinal Aganglionosis | Gastroschisis | Obstetric Cholestasis | Small Bowel Obstruction | Necrotizing Enterocolitis | Self Assessment Questions | WWW Links | References | Glossary
Cassart M, Massez A, Lingier P, Absil AS, Donner C, Avni F. Sonographic prenatal diagnosis of malpositioned stomach as a feature of uncomplicated intestinal malrotation. Pediatr Radiol. 2006 Feb 8;:1-3
Strouse PJ. Animal models of implantation. Reproduction. 2004 Dec;128(6):679-95. Disorders of intestinal rotation and fixation ("malrotation"). Pediatr Radiol. 2004 Nov;34(11):837-51.
There are two types of abnormalities that impact upon the continuity of the gastrointestinal tract lumen.
Atresia - interuption of the lumen (esophageal atresia, duodenal atresia, extrahepatic biliary atresia, anorectal atresia)
Stenosis - narrowing of the lumen (duodenal stenosis, pyloric stenosis)
Presents clinically in symptomatic malrotation as:
Ladd's Bands - are a series of bands crossing the duodenum which can cause duodenal obstruction.
Midgut Volvulus - twisting of the midgut (bowel) which causes obstruction to the flow of material. Can include a variable loss of local blood supply which leads to tissue death.
Diagnosis is generally by upper gastrointestinal radiologic examination or less frequently by barium enema or CT scan.
Corrective surgery is generally by the Ladd's procedure, even with surgical treatment there is still significant associated complications and long-term morbidity.
What abnormal embryological processes could interfere with normal rotation and fixation of the gut?
Search PubMed: intestinal+malrotation
OMIM: Volvulus of Midgut
Disturbance of the lateralisation of the liver may produce transposition of some or all of the foregut and its derivatives.
Also in situs inversus the anatomical relations of the duodenum, pancreas, bile ducts and portal veins may be reversed or disordered.
Search PubMed: Situs Inversus Viscera
This GIT abnormality is a very common and results from improper closure and absorption of the omphalomesenteric duct (vitelline duct) in development. This transient developmental duct connects the yolk to the primitive GIT. (More? Levy and Hobbs, 2004)
OMIM: Meckel's Diverticulum
Note: Bedside Meckel's diverticulum, there are a range of other vitelline duct abnormalities which depend on the degree from a completely patent duct at the umbilicus to lesser remnants (cysts, fibrous cords connecting umbilicus to distal ileum, granulation tissue at umbilicus, or umbilical hernias).
(intestinal aganglionosis, Hirschsprung's disease, aganglionic colon, megacolon, congenital aganglionic megacolon, congenital megacolon) A condition caused by the lack of enteric nervous system (neural ganglia) in the intestinal tract responsible for gastric motility (peristalsis). In general, its severity is dependent upon the amount of the GIT that lacks intrinsic ganglia, due to developmental lack of neural crest migration into those segments. (More? Neural Crest Abnormalities)
Historically, Hirschsprung's disease takes its name from Dr Harald Hirschsprung (1830-1916) a Danish pediatrician (of German extraction). In 1886, he presented at the German Society of Pediatrics conference in Berlin a case of 2 infants who died of complications of bowel obstruction (H. Hirschsprung, Stuhltragheit Neugeborener in Folge von Dilatation und Hypertrophie des Colons, Jhrb f Kinderh 27 (1888), pp. 1–7). Later autopsies identified a dilatation and hypertrophy of large intestine, and the rectum appeared normally narrow. Hirschsprung suggested that the condition was an inborn disease and named it congenital megacolon.
The first indication in newborns is an absence of the first bowel movement, other symptoms include throwing up and intestinal infections. Clinically this is detected by one or more tests (barium enema and x ray, manometry or biopsy) and can currently only be treated by surgery. A temoporary ostomy (Colostomy or Ileostomy) with a stoma is carried out prior to a more permanent pull-through surgery.
Ostomy - Aganglionic portion removed
Stoma - intestine attached to the abdomen wall
(Images: NIH - NIDDK - Hirschsprungs)
Short section of the colon without smooth muscle neural ganglia
Aganglionic segment removed
Search PubMed: hirschprung's+disease
Gastroschisis (omphalocele, paraomphalocele, laparoschisis, abdominoschisis, abdominal hernia) is a congenital abdominal wall defect which results in herniation of fetal abdominal viscera (intestines and/or organs) into the amniotic cavity. Incidence of gastroschisis has been reported at 1.66/10,000, occuring more frequently in young mothers (less than 20 years old).
By definition, it is a body wall defect, not a gastrointestinal tract defect, which in turn impacts upon GIT development.
The developmental cause of this abnormality is unknown, with suggestions of vascular (occlusion of the omphalomesenteric artery), environmental factors (teratogens) and in some cases genetic. There are several theories as to how this body wall defect occurs, the most recent (see Feldkamp etal, 2007) includes early abnormal folding of the body wall.
The condition can often be detected by ultrasound scan (More? Abnormal Ultrasound - Gastroschisis).
References: Feldkamp ML, Carey JC, Sadler TW. Development of gastroschisis: Review of hypotheses, a novel hypothesis, and implications for research. Am J Med Genet A. 2007 Jan 17 | Drewett M, Michailidis GD, Burge D. The perinatal management of gastroschisis. Early Hum Dev. 2006 May;82(5):305-12. Epub 2006 Mar 24.
Not generally a developmental abnormality, but related to therapeutic intervention in GIT abnormalities or disease.
Short bowel syndrome is a group of problems affecting people who have had half or more of their small intestine removed. The most common reason for removing part of the small intestine is to treat Crohn's disease. Short bowel syndrome is treated through changes in diet, intravenous feeding, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medicine to relieve symptoms. (NDDIC)
A recent paper in the British Medical Journal discusses this pregnancy associated disease.
"Obstetric cholestasis (or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) remains widely disregarded as an important clinical problem, with many obstetricians still considering its main symptom, pruritus, a natural association of pregnancy. Obstetric cholestasis is associated with cholesterol gallstones. It may be extremely stressful for the mother but also carries risks for the baby." Piotr Milkiewicz, Elwyn Elias, Catherine Williamson, and Judith Weaver BMJ 2002; 324: 123-124
The are two major forms of small bowel obstruction are from either external (extrinsic) or internal (intrinsic) causes. (More? see Boudiaf etal., 2001) Listed below are a few examples of both causes.
Extrinsic Causes - adhesions, closed loop, strangulation, hernia and extrinsic masses
Intrinsic Causes - intestinal malrotation, Crohn disease, adenocarcinoma, tuberculosis, radiation enteropathy, intramural hemorrhage, intussusception and intraluminal causes.
Occurs postnatally in mainly in premature and low birth weight infants (1 in 2,000 - 4,000 births). The underdeveloped gastointestinal tract appears to be susceptible to bacteria, normally found within the tract,to spread widely to other regions where they damage the tract wall and may enter the bloodstream.
(functional immaturity of the colon) Term used to describe a transient disorder of the newborn colon, which is characterized by delayed passage of meconium (more than 24 to 48 h), intestinal dilatation and yellow/green vomiting. More common in premature infants and can be determined by radiological dye study.
A recent study by Keckler etal., 2008 looked at thecorrelation of meconium plug as identified radiologically covering 1994 to 2007, of 77 patients (mean gestational age 37.4 weeks, birth weight, 2977 g) Hirschsprung's disease was found in 10 patients (13%). "Although all patients with plugs and persistent abnormal stooling patterns should prompt a rectal biopsy and genetic probe, the incidence of Hirschsprung's and cystic fibrosis may not be as high as previously reported."
Links: Keckler SJ, St Peter SD, Spilde TL, Tsao K, Ostlie DJ, Holcomb GW 3rd, Snyder CL. Current significance of meconium plug syndrome. J Pediatr Surg. 2008 May;43(5):896-8.PMID: 18485962 | U Mich - Meconium Plug Syndrome |
Virtual Childrens Hospital site has now been inactivated and the list below is based upon terms and content shown on the original site.
I would recommend searching Medline Plus with one of the listed terms for relevant clinical information.
Strouse PJ. [See Related Articles] Animal models of implantation. Reproduction. 2004 Dec;128(6):679-95. Disorders of intestinal rotation and fixation ("malrotation"). Pediatr Radiol. 2004 Nov;34(11):837-51.
Chitkara DK, Nurko S, Shoffner JM, Buie T, Flores A. [See Related Articles] Abnormalities in gastrointestinal motility are associated with diseases of oxidative phosphorylation in children. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Apr;98(4):871-7.
Boudiaf M, Soyer P, Terem C, Pelage JP, Maissiat E, Rymer R. [See Related Articles] Ct evaluation of small bowel obstruction. Radiographics. 2001 May-Jun;21(3):613-24.
Cassart M, Massez A, Lingier P, Absil AS, Donner C, Avni F. [See Related Articles] Sonographic prenatal diagnosis of malpositioned stomach as a feature of uncomplicated intestinal malrotation. Pediatr Radiol. 2006 Feb 8;:1-3
Drewett M, Michailidis GD, Burge D. The perinatal management of gastroschisis. Early Hum Dev. 2006 May;82(5):305-12. Epub 2006 Mar 24.
Vegunta RK, Wallace LJ, Leonardi MR, Gross TL, Renfroe Y, Marshall JS, Cohen HS, Hocker JR, Macwan KS, Clark SE, Ramiro S, Pearl RH. Perinatal management of gastroschisis: analysis of a newly established clinical pathway. J Pediatr Surg. 2005 Mar;40(3):528-34.
Salomon LJ, Mahieu-Caputo D, Jouvet P, Jouannic JM, Benachi A, Grebille AG, Dumez Y, Dommergues M. Fetal home monitoring for the prenatal management of gastroschisis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2004 Nov;83(11):1061-4.
Langer JC. Abdominal wall defects. World J Surg. 2003 Jan;27(1):117-24.
Search Jun 2006 "intestinal malrotation" 735 reference articles of which 55 were reviews.