A mesenteric hernia is one type of intraperitoneal hernia. There is no hernia sac in this situation but only a mesenteric defect, which is present at birth. Strangulated mesenteric hernia is a rare cause of intestinal obstruction especially in the pediatric population. Between January 1996 and January 2006, four patients with intestinal obstruction were determined to have congenital mesenteric hernia at Chang Gung Children's Hospital. Patients consisted of three boys and one girl, ranging in age from 2 years 5 months to 5 years 4 months. All patients presented with symptoms and signs indicative of intestinal obstruction. On physical examination, all patients appeared to be severely ill. A shock-like state was associated with necrosis of the strangulated bowel in two patients. A palpable abdominal mass was present in one patient with volvulus of small bowel. The plain abdominal radiography and the ultrasound scan also showed dilatation of the small bowel and excluded intussusception. All the patients underwent laparotomy after initial resuscitation. During laparotomy, three patients had incarceration of small bowel through the small mesenteric defect, and another one had volvulus with gangrenous bowel entrapped within a large mesenteric defect. The defects ranged in size are from 2 to 7 centimeters in diameter. Simple reduction of the incarcerated bowel with repair of the defect was performed in two patients, resection of gangrenous bowel and primary anastomosis was required in one patient, and resection with end ileostomy was needed in another one patient. There was no postoperative mortality in our patients. Conclusion: A mesenteric hernia is a rare cause of intestinal obstruction, especially in children. Open exploration is the only way to establish a clear anatomic diagnosis.
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