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Pyloric Stenosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is pyloric stenosis?

Pyloric stenosis is a condition that causes narrowing of your baby's pylorus. The pylorus is the muscular opening at the lower end of the stomach that connects to the intestines. Narrowing prevents food from moving from the stomach to the intestines. The cause is unknown.

Abdominal Organs

What increases my baby's risk for pyloric stenosis?

  • First born child
  • Male
  • Family history, especially the parents

What are the signs and symptoms of pyloric stenosis?

  • Vomiting after a feeding that gets worse and happens more often
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dry lips or little urination
  • Blood in vomit
  • Hunger after every vomit
  • A lump in your baby's abdomen the size of an olive
  • Few or small bowel movements
  • Weight loss, a lean body, or failure to thrive
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)

How is pyloric stenosis diagnosed?

  • Blood or urine tests will show dehydration and other problems caused by pyloric stenosis.
  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show the narrowed pylorus and fluid movement into the intestines.
  • Upper GI x-rays may show how fluid flows from the stomach into the intestines. The upper GI includes the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Your baby may drink a barium (chalky contrast agent) to help his or her organs show up clearly.

How is pyloric stenosis treated?

  • Hydration is used to put fluids, sugar, and salts into your baby's body through an IV.
  • A nasogastric (NG) tube is used to give food and medicine. Your baby may need an NG tube if he or she cannot feed normally. The NG tube will be put into your baby's nose and guided down his or her throat to the stomach. The tube may be attached to suction if your baby's stomach needs to stay empty.
  • Surgery may be needed to cut and loosen the pylorus to allow food to pass through.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your baby is vomiting and cannot keep any liquids down.
  • Your baby has new or worsening signs of dehydration:
    • Dry mouth or cracked lips
    • Fast heartbeat or breathing
    • More irritable or fussy than usual
    • Urinating little or not at all
    • Sunken eyes or fontanels (soft spot on the top of the head)

When should I call my baby's doctor?

  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby's vomit contains blood, or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. 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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