Pyloric Stenosis

What is Pyloric Stenosis?

Pyloric Stenosis is an issue with the valve between the stomach and small intestine that primarily affects infants. Babies develop enlarged pylorus muscles which block the flow of food from the stomach via this muscular valve. As a result, food doesn’t move into the small intestine and cannot be digested.

Babies with pyloric stenosis may not be born with it; instead, the pylorus muscles may begin to thicken right after birth.

There may be both genetic and environmental causes for pyloric stenosis, but the medical community doesn’t know exactly why it occurs. The condition is four times more likely to show up in boys than in girls. There may also be an increase in infants who took erythromycin in the first weeks of life, or whose mothers took the antibiotic late in pregnancy.

What are the Symptoms of Pyloric Stenosis?

Babies with pyloric stenosis can’t digest the food in their stomachs. Instead, they vomit the food up – usually very forcefully – which leads to dehydration and weight loss. Infants with this condition may seem to be hungry constantly and may cry more than normal. Constipation and a reduction in bowel movements also takes place.

How is Pyloric Stenosis Treated?

Fortunately, pyloric stenosis is generally diagnosed early and initially treated with intravenous fluids to rehydrate and restore balance in the baby’s body.

The only way to eliminate pyloric stenosis is through surgery. The operation is called a pyloromyotomy, and it opens up the pyloric valve to allow food to be transported into the small intestine. It can be done as a traditional open surgery or using laparoscopic techniques.

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Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017
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