Intussusception (in-tuh-suh-SEP-shun) is a serious disorder in which part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine. This "telescoping" often blocks food or fluid from passing through. Intussusception also cuts off the blood supply to the part of the intestine that's affected. Intussusception can lead to a tear in the bowel (perforation), infection and death of bowel tissue.
Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children younger than 3. Intussusception is rare in adults. Most cases of adult intussusception are the result of an underlying medical condition, such as a tumor. In contrast, the cause of most cases of intussusception in children is unknown.
In children, the intestines can usually be pushed back into position with an X-ray procedure. In adults, surgery is often required to correct the problem.