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Meckel's diverticulum
Classification and external resources

Meckel's diverticulum
ICD-10 C17.3, Q43.0
ICD-9 152.3, 751.0
OMIM 155140
DiseasesDB 7903
eMedicine med/2797 ped/1389 rad/425
MeSH D008467

A Meckel's diverticulum, a true congenital diverticulum, is a small bulge in the small intestine present at birth. It is a vestigial remnant of the omphalomesenteric duct (also called the vitelline duct or yolk stalk), and is the most frequent malformation of the gastrointestinal tract. It is present in approximately 2% of the population,[1] with males more frequently experiencing symptoms.

It was first described by Fabricius Hildanus in the sixteenth century and later named after Johann Friedrich Meckel, who described the embryological origin of this type of diverticulum in 1809.[2][3]



Meckel's diverticulum is located in the distal ileum, usually within about 60-100 cm of the ileocecal valve. It is typically 3-5 cm long, runs antimesenterically and has its own blood supply. It is a remnant of the connection from the yolk-sac to the small intestine present during embryonic development.

A memory aid is the rule of 2's: 2% (of the population) - 2 feet (from the ileocecal valve) - 2 inches (in length) - 2% are symptomatic, there are 2 types of common ectopic tissue (gastric and pancreatic), the most common age at clinical presentation is 2, and males are 2 times as likely to be affected. However, the exact value for the above criteria range from 0.2-5 (for example, prevalence is probably 0.2-4%).

It can also be present as an indirect hernia, typically on the right side, where it is known as a "Hernia of Littre." A case report of strangulated umbilical hernia with meckel's diverticulum has also been published in the literature.[4]Furthermore, it can be attached to the umbilical region by the vitelline ligament, with the possibility of vitelline cysts, or even a patent vitelline canal forming a vitelline fistula when the umbilical cord is cut. Torsions of intestine around the intestinal stalk may also occur, leading to obstruction, ischemia, and necrosis.


The majority of people afflicted with Meckel's diverticulum are asymptomatic.[5] If symptoms do occur, they typically appear before the age of two.

The most common presenting symptom is painless rectal bleeding, followed by intestinal obstruction, volvulus and intussusception. Occasionally, Meckel's diverticulitis may present with all the features of acute appendicitis. Also, severe pain in the upper abdomen is experienced by the patient along with bloating of the stomach region. At times, the symptoms are so painful such that they may cause sleepless nights with extreme pain in the abdominal area.

Most of the time, bleeding occurs without warning and stops spontaneously.


A technetium-99m (99mTc) pertechnetate scan is the investigation of choice to diagnose Meckel's diverticula. This scan detects gastric mucosa; since approximately 50% of symptomatic Meckel's diverticula have ectopic gastric or pancreatic cells contained within them,[6] this is displayed as a spot on the scan distant from the stomach itself. Patients with these misplaced gastric cells may experience peptic ulcers as a consequence. Other tests such as colonoscopy and screenings for bleeding disorders should be performed, and angiography can assist in determining the location and severity of bleeding. Meckel's occurs more often in males than females.


Treatment is surgical.

In patients with bleeding, strangulation of bowel, bowel perforation or bowel obstruction, treatment involves surgical resection of both the Meckel's diverticulum itself along with the adjacent bowel segment.

In patients without any of the aforementioned complications, treatment involves surgical resection of the Meckel's diverticulum only.

It is generally not indicated to remove Meckel's diverticula found incidentally during surgery for other reasons.

Notable patients

Major League Baseball player Chan Ho Park, then a pitcher with the San Diego Padres (currently with the Philadelphia Phillies), suffered multiple episodes during the 2006 season in which mysterious internal bleeding caused him to lose a significant fraction of his blood volume. He was finally diagnosed with Meckel's diverticulum, which was surgically removed August 23, 2006.[7] Nirvana lead-singer Kurt Cobain is thought to have suffered from it as well as Samuel Cooper, John Harrison York, Mark S. Platt and George Washington.[citation needed]

External links


  1. ^ Elsayes KM, Menias CO, Harvin HJ, Francis IR (July 2007). "Imaging manifestations of Meckel's diverticulum". AJR Am J Roentgenol 189 (1): 81–8. doi:10.2214/AJR.06.1257. PMID 17579156. 
  2. ^ Meckel's diverticulum at Who Named It?
  3. ^ J. F. Meckel. Über die Divertikel am Darmkanal. Archiv für die Physiologie, Halle, 1809, 9: 421-453.
  4. ^ Tiu,A and Lee, D. An unusual manifestation of Meckel's diverticulum: strangulated paraumbilical hernia.N Z Med J. 2006 Jun 23;119(1236):U2034)
  5. ^ Thurley PD, Halliday KE, Somers JM, Al-Daraji WI, Ilyas M, Broderick NJ (February 2009). "Radiological features of Meckel's diverticulum and its complications". Clin Radiol 64 (2): 109–18. doi:10.1016/j.crad.2008.07.012. PMID 19103339. 
  6. ^ Martin JP, Connor PD, Charles K (February 2000). "Meckel's diverticulum". Am Fam Physician 61 (4): 1037–42, 1044. PMID 10706156. 
  7. ^ "Padres P Park undergoes surgery, will miss four weeks". Retrieved 2007-07-25. 


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