What is Gastroschisis & Omphalocele?

Both gastroschisis and omphalocele are congenital defects of the abdominal wall most commonly diagnosed before a baby is born. Early diagnosis has resulted in improved outcomes because the baby can then be cared for at specialized institutions, like Children’s Medical Center, having appropriate expertise in their management.

In omphalocele, the abdominal muscles around the umbilicus do not form correctly leaving only a thin membrane covering the intestine. Unfortunately, many babies with an omphalocele also have other birth defects, such as heart and brain defects, that can complicate their care.

In gastroschisis, the baby develops without a covering over the intestine leaving the intestines to protrude from the abdomen which can cause damage to the intestine. At birth, babies having gastroschisis or omphalocele are kept very comfortable and prepared for the operating room. 

In the operating room, the intestines can often be replaced into the abdomen. Sometimes, because there is no space in the abdomen for the intestine, the intestines are covered with a specialized plastic sheeting called a “silo” and slowly reduced back into the abdomen. 

Once the intestines are within the abdomen, the abdominal wall defect can be repaired. Great progress has been made in the treatment of abdominal wall defects allowing for a greater than 90% survival.

Learn more about omphalocele disorders
Learn more about other gastroschisis disorders

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