What is the definition of Duodenal Atresia?

Duodenal atresia is a condition in which the first part of the small bowel (the duodenum) has not developed properly. It is not open and cannot allow the passage of stomach contents.

What are the causes for Duodenal Atresia?

The cause of duodenal atresia is not known. It is thought to result from problems during an embryo's development. The duodenum does not change from a solid to a tube-like structure, as it normally would.

Many infants with duodenal atresia also have Down syndrome. Duodenal atresia is often associated with other birth defects.

What are the symptoms for Duodenal Atresia?

Symptoms of duodenal atresia include:

  • Upper abdominal swelling (sometimes)
  • Early vomiting of large amounts, which may be greenish (containing bile)
  • Continued vomiting even when infant has not been fed for several hours
  • No bowel movements after first few meconium stools

What are the current treatments for Duodenal Atresia?

A tube is placed to decompress the stomach. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are corrected by providing fluids through an intravenous tube (IV, into a vein). Checking for other congenital anomalies should be done.

Surgery to correct the duodenal blockage is necessary, but not an emergency. The exact surgery will depend on the nature of the abnormality. Other problems (such as those related to Down syndrome) must be treated as appropriate.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Duodenal Atresia?

Recovery from the duodenal atresia is expected after treatment. If not treated, the condition is deadly.

What are the possible complications for Duodenal Atresia?

These complications may occur:

  • Other birth defects
  • Dehydration

After surgery, there may be complications such as:

  • Swelling of the first part of the small bowel
  • Problems with movement through the intestines
  • Gastroesophageal reflux

When should I contact a medical professional for Duodenal Atresia?

Call your health care provider if your newborn is:

  • Feeding poorly or not at all
  • Vomiting (not simply spitting up) or if the vomit is green
  • Not urinating or having bowel movements

How do I prevent Duodenal Atresia?

There is no known prevention.

Stomach and small intestine


Dingeldein M. Selected gastrointestinal anomalies in the neonate. In: Martin RJ, Fanaroff AA, Walsh MC, eds. Fanaroff and Martin's Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 84.

Maqbool A, Bales C, Liacouras CA. Intestinal atresia, stenosis, and malrotation. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 356.

Semrin MG, Russo MA. Anatomy, histology, and developmental anomalies of the stomach and duodenum. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 48.

  • Condition: Duodenal Atresia
  • Journal: Khirurgiia
  • Treatment Used: Laparoscopic and Open Treatment
  • Number of Patients: 211
  • Published —
The aim of this study was to summarize data of a multiple-center study of the treatment of duodenal atresia via laparoscopic and open treatment.
  • Condition: Congenital Duodenal Atresia with Situs Inversus Abdominis in a Newborn
  • Journal: Medicine
  • Treatment Used: Diamond-shaped Duodenoduodenostomy with Appendectomy
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
The study researched the outcomes of a newborn with diamond-shaped duodenoduodenostomy with appendectomy.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Procedure
  • Participants: 40
  • Start Date: December 1, 2019
Validation of a Totally Synthetic High Fidelity Laparoscopic Duodenal Atresia (DA) Surgical Simulator