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Omphalocele Repair

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about omphalocele repair?

Omphalocele is surgery to put your baby's intestines back into his or her abdomen. The opening in your baby's abdominal muscles will be closed, if possible. Your baby may need more than one surgery to fix the omphalocele. A small omphalocele may be repaired soon after your baby is born. Your baby may need to wait 1 year or more to have a large omphalocele fully repaired if the abdomen is not large enough. Your baby may need to have tissue expanders placed to help widen the abdomen. Your baby will need immediate surgery if the sac covering the intestines breaks.

How do I prepare my baby for surgery?

Your baby's healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare your baby for surgery. The provider will tell you which medicines to give or not give your baby on the day of surgery. The provider will also talk to you about feeding your baby on the day before and day of surgery. Your baby's age and health at the time of surgery will help direct how you will need to prepare.

What will happen during surgery?

  • Your baby will be given general anesthesia to keep him or her asleep and free from pain during surgery.
  • Your baby's surgeon will make an incision into the sac and remove it from the organs. The surgeon will look for and remove any damaged sections of intestine.
  • The surgeon will then move the intestines and any involved organs back into your baby's abdomen. The incision will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage. Your baby may need more surgery later to fix the muscles that had the opening.

What will happen after surgery?

  • After surgery, extra oxygen may be needed if your baby has breathing problems. A machine called a ventilator may be used to breathe for your baby. A nasogastric (NG) tube will be placed into your baby's nose and guided to his or her stomach. An NG tube is used to keep your baby's stomach empty and to remove pressure.
  • Your baby will need to be fed through an IV placed in a central vein until his or her bowels start working correctly. Your baby will also receive antibiotics to help prevent a bacterial infection. Pain medicine may also be given. When the bowels start working correctly, your baby will be able to start breastfeeding or feeding from a bottle.

What are the risks of omphalocele repair?

Your baby may get an infection or bleed more than expected during surgery. A blood clot may develop. This can be life-threatening. Your baby may have breathing problems after surgery and need extra oxygen or a ventilator. Organs may be damaged during surgery.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.