Medical Q&As

Pyloric stenosis - what is it?

My 3-week-old son has just been diagnosed with pyloric stenosis. Can you tell me more about this?

Pyloric stenosis means a narrowing of the pylorus, which is the terminal portion of the stomach that leads into the duodenum or first part of the small intestine. The narrowing is due to enlargement of the muscle in the wall of the pylorus, which in turn reduces the internal diameter of the connection between the stomach and duodenum. Most babies with pyloric stenosis begin to spit back their food and progress on to projectile vomiting within the first few weeks of life. Typically this vomiting occurs after feeding and is directly related to the failure of the stomach to empty satisfactorily due to the partial obstruction caused by the thickening in the pylorus. The condition is treated surgically and the operation involves cutting the thick muscle in the pylorus. The procedure is called a pyloromyotomy. This operation only requires a small surgical incision and the child is usually fit to go home within a couple of days of surgery taking place. It is not unusual for such children to vomit a few times after surgery but this problem usually subsides quickly. The prognosis for such children is excellent and they tend not to have any long-term problems after the surgery.