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Omphalocele Repair


What do I need to know about omphalocele repair?

Omphalocele is surgery to put your baby's intestines back into his 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 his abdomen is not large enough. He may need to have tissue expanders placed to help widen his 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. He will tell you which medicines to give or not give your baby on the day of surgery. He 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 him.

What will happen during surgery?

  • Your baby will be given general anesthesia to keep him asleep and free from pain during surgery. His surgeon will make an incision into the sac and remove it from the organs. He will look for and remove any damaged sections of intestine.
  • He 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 in his abdomen that had the opening.

What will happen after surgery?

  • After surgery, your baby may need extra oxygen if he has breathing problems. He may need a machine called a ventilator to breathe for him. A nasogastric (NG) tube will be placed into your baby's nose and guided to his stomach. The NG tube is used to keep your baby's stomach empty and to remove pressure.
  • He will need to be fed through an IV placed in a central vein until his bowels start working correctly. Your baby will also receive antibiotics to help prevent a bacterial infection. He may also be given pain medicine. When your baby's bowels start working correctly, he 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. He may develop a blood clot. This can be life-threatening. Your baby may have breathing problems after surgery and need extra oxygen or a ventilator. His 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.