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Optimizing surgical resection of the bleeding Meckel diverticulum in children


Meckel diverticula containing gastric heterotopia predispose to local hyperacidity, mucosal ulceration, and gastrointestinal bleeding in children. Eradication of acid-producing oxyntic cells is performed by either of two surgical methods: segmental enterectomy including the diverticulum or diverticulectomy only.


Retrospective review of all children having surgical resection of a Meckel diverticulum at a tertiary-referral children's hospital from 2002 to 2016 was performed. Demographic data, surgical method, pathological specimens, and outcomes were evaluated.


102 children underwent surgical resection of a Meckel diverticulum during the study period. 27 (26.5%) children presented with bleeding, of which 16 (59%) had diverticulectomy only, and 11 (41%) had segmental ileal resection. All Meckel diverticula in children presenting with bleeding contained gastric heterotopia, and resection margins were free of gastric mucosa. Histologically, 19 specimens showed microscopic features of ulceration, on average 2.95 mm (SD 4.49) from the nearest gastric mucosa (range: 0–16 mm). Mean length of hospitalization after ileal resection was 4.0 days (SD 1.2) compared to 1.6 days (SD 0.9) for diverticulectomy only (p < 0.001), with no re-bleeding occurrences.


In the operative management of children having a bleeding Meckel diverticulum, diverticulectomy-only completely eradicates gastric heterotopia without increased risk of continued bleeding or complications and significantly shortens hospitalization.

Level of evidence

Treatment Study: Level III.

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