Meckel Diverticulum

Meckel diverticulum is a congenital anomaly of the small intestine that can present with various clinical manifestations, including rectal bleeding and obstruction. Recognizing the characteristic features and understanding the differential diagnosis is crucial in managing patients with lower gastrointestinal bleeding. This episode will help you recognize and diagnose this surgical condition that you probably remember because the “rule of twos.”


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Dixon P & Nolan D. The Diagnosis of Meckel’s Diverticulum: A Continuing Challenge. Clin Radiol. 1987;38(6):615-9

Ghahremani G. Radiology of Meckel’s Diverticulum. Crit Rev Diagn Imaging. 1986;26(1):1-43

Weerakkody Y, Ranchod A, Yap J, et al. Meckel diverticulum. Reference article, (Accessed on 26 Oct 2023)

Sagar J, Kumar V, Shah DK. Meckel’s diverticulum: a systematic review. J R Soc Med. 2006 Oct;99(10):501-5.

An J, Zabbo CP. Meckel Diverticulum. [Updated 2023 Jan 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Note: This transcript was partially completed with the use of the Descript AI

Welcome to PEMCurrents: The Pediatric Emergency Medicine Podcast. As always, I’m your host, Brad Sobolewski. Your time is valuable and so is mine. And that’s why I release these brief, succinct episodes focused on a single clinical topic, get you in, get you out, teach you something. Today I’m going to talk about Meckel diverticulum. If you haven’t seen it clinically, you have seen it on a test and it is absolutely something that you should be thinking about when you see a patient with bloody stools in the emergency department.

So Meckel diverticulum is a congenital abnormality of the small intestine and it’s the most common cause of significant lower GI bleeding in children. It arises from an incomplete involution of the vitelline duct during embryonic development. You didn’t think I’d say that during this podcast.

Typically occurring during the seventh week of gestation. It’s characterized by a blind ending true diverticulum, a pouch, that contains all of the layers typically found in the ileum. So especially relevant to board exams, Meckel diverticulum follows the rule of twos. So it affects approximately 2 percent of the population.

It’s located about two feet from the ileocecal valve. It’s usually about two inches long. Only about 2 percent of cases actually become symptomatic. It is most commonly diagnosed by the age of two years, with 45 percent of symptomatic cases occurring in this age group. It is two times as common in boys, and there are two types of epithelium found in the meckle diverticulum, gastric and pancreatic.

So the clinical presentation of Meckel can vary depending on the complications that arise. The most common presentation in children Under the age of five years is rectal bleeding, which may be intermittent or just massive, but the bleeding is usually painless. Other complications include obstruction due to intussusception or volvulus, which can lead to bowel ischemia or shock.

Diverticulitis and umbilical fistula can also occur, but that might typically be seen later in life. In approximately a third of cases, Meckel diverticulum may perforate, and traumatic rupture of one could actually occur following blunt trauma. Let’s move briefly into the differential diagnosis of GI bleeding in children.

So, upper GI bleeding is typically not bright red. Now you could have a briskly bleeding ulcer and a liver transplant patient, but that’s not something we typically see in pediatrics. So generally lower GI bleeding is bright red, hematochezia, whereas the upper GI bleeding is maroon or dark black, diverticular disease.

which is rare in children, could cause bright red bleeding. A vascular ectasia or angio dysplasia, which is really hard to diagnose unless you’re an endoscopist. You could have bright red blood from inflammatory bowel disease, infectious colitis, mesenteric ischemia or ischemic colitis, colorectal cancer or polyps, hemorrhoids, both internal and external.

Aortoenteric fistula, or vascular fistulas, which are pretty darn rare in children, and generally a complication of inflammatory bowel disease or previous surgery, a rectal foreign body, a rectal ulcer, which is often associated with HIV, syphilis, or other sexually transmitted infections, or an anal fissure.

So all of these things are on the differential for lower GI bleeding. It’s important to note that if you see diarrhea with blood, as opposed to just frank blood, you should be thinking about infectious problems, like STEC causing organisms, like E. coli 0157:H7 which can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease, or other problems.

So the diagnosis of Meckel diverticulum is called a meckle scan. I wonder how it got its name. It’s a technetium 99 pertectinate scan, and it’s the classic test of choice for diagnosis. It’s a nuclear medicine study, and the radioactive tracer is taken up by the gastric mucosa, which is in the Meckel diverticulum.

Therefore, it’ll show up on the radiology picture. The sensitivity is reported to be about 60 percent in adults, but 85 90 percent in children. The uptake of the dye can be increased by giving cimetidine or glucagon. So the feeding artery of the Meckel diverticulum is an anomalous branch of the superior mesenteric artery.

It has a long and non branching course and it ends generally towards the right lower quadrant. So the MEKL scan will help you pick up where that gastric mucosa is and then the surgeons can figure out how the blood supply gets there. Ultrasound and CT are not really good at differentiating a Meckel diverticulum from normal bowel.

So, if you think that somebody has a Meckel diverticulum, Here are some following management steps. If the patient has signs of obstruction, insert a nasogastric tube for GI decompression. Give broad spectrum antibiotics to cover potential bacterial infection, especially if the patient is ill appearing.

Give IV fluids packed red blood cells to resuscitate. A CBC and type and screen are great lamps to get. If there’s brisk bleeding or the patient’s unstable, consider COAGs. And yeah, you’re gonna want to consult a surgeon because that is how you deal with asymptomatic Meckel diverticulum. So if you’ve got complications such as significant bleeding, bowel obstruction or perforation, emergent surgical removal is warranted.

This can be done via a laparoscopic or open approach. So I’m going to wrap this up here. Again, this is a brief episode. A Meckle diverticulum is a congenital anomaly of the small intestine that can present with various clinical manifestations, including rectal bleeding. and bowel obstruction. Recognizing the characteristic features and understanding the differential diagnosis is crucial in managing patients with lower GI bleeding.

The Meckel scan is the preferred diagnostic modality. It’s a nuclear medicine scan and prompt surgical consultation is necessary for symptomatic cases. All right, so that’s it for this brief episode. If there’s other topics you want to see me tackle, send them my way. I’ll take your suggestions via email. Direct message on X or Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, telepathy. Any feedback is good feedback. Until next time, for PEMCurrents: The Pediatric Emergency Medicine Podcast, this has been Brad Sobolewski. See you later. 

Infectious Diseases Surgery

Neutropenic enterocolitis

Bad things happen when you don’t have enough neutrophils. After getting cytotoxic chemotherapy you tend to have even fewer neutrophils. This can put you at risk for neutropenic enterocolitis which should be suspected in an immunocompromised child with fever and abdominal symptoms. Treatment is broad spectrum antibiotics and the imaging test of choice is CT with contrast. Learn all about this potentially catastrophic condition in this brief podcast episode.

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Freifeld AG, Bow EJ, Sepkowitz KA, Boeckh MJ, Ito JI, Mullen CA, Raad II, Rolston KV, Young JA, Wingard JR. Clinical practice guideline for the use of antimicrobial agents in neutropenic patients with cancer: 2010 update by the infectious diseases society of america. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Feb 15;52(4):e56-93. doi: 10.1093/cid/cir073. PubMed PMID: 21258094.

McQueen A, et al. Oncologic Emergencies. In: Shaw KN, et al. Fleisher & Ludwig’s Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. 2021:901-935.

Moran H, Yaniv I, Ashkenazi S, Schwartz M, Fisher S, Levy I. Risk factors for typhlitis in pediatric patients with cancer. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2009 Sep;31(9):630-4. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e3181b1ee28. PMID: 19644402.

Kirkpatrick ID, Greenberg HM. Gastrointestinal complications in the neutropenic patient: characterization and differentiation with abdominal CT. Radiology. 2003 Mar;226(3):668-74. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2263011932. Epub 2003 Jan 24. PMID: 12601214.

Radiology Surgery

Ultrasound for Appendicitis

This episode of PEM Currents: The Pediatric Emergency Medicine podcast is focused on the use of ultrasound to make the diagnosis of acute appendicitis. You’ll learn about how a right lower quadrant ultrasound is performed, what we look for on the images, how to interpret positive, negative, and intermediate/equivocal results and much more! This episode was co-produced by Liz Lendrum, a senior pediatric resident at Cincinnati Children’s. She developed the learning objectives, compiled the references, and did a stellar job preparing the script and show notes that we used to record this episode. You can follow her on Twitter @liz_lendrum.

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CME & MOC Part 2

We are proud to offer CME and MOC Part 2 from Cincinnati Children’s. Click this link to go to the page for credit. Credit is free and registration is required.

Click here to claim CME and MOC part 2 Credit

Appendicits Clinical Scores

Pediatric Appendicitis Score – MD Calc

Alvarado Score for Acute Appendicitis – MD Calc

Pediatric Appendicitis Risk Calculator – MD Calc


Kharbanda AB, Vazquez-benitez G, Ballard DW, et al. Development and Validation of a Novel Pediatric Appendicitis Risk Calculator (pARC). Pediatrics. 2018;141(4).

Cotton DM, Vinson DR, Vazquez-benitez G, et al. Validation of the Pediatric Appendicitis Risk Calculator (pARC) in a Community Emergency Department Setting. Ann Emerg Med. 2019.

Samuel M. Pediatric Appendicitis Score. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Vol 37,No 6 (June),2002: pp 877-881.

Goldman RD. The Paediatric Appendicitis Score (PAS) was useful in children with acute abdominal pain. Evid Based Med 2009;14:26 doi:10.1136/ebm.14.1.26

Kharbanda, AB. Validation and Refinement of a Prediction Rule to Identify Children at Low Risk for Acute Appendicitis. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2012;166(8):738-744. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.490

Shah SR, Sinclair KA, Theut SB, Johnson KM, Holcomb GW 3rd, St Peter SD. Computed Tomography Utilization for the Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis in Children Decreases With a Diagnostic Algorithm. Ann Surg. 2016 Sep;264(3):474-81.

Becker C, Kharbanda A. Acute appendicitis in pediatric patients: an evidence-based review. Pediatr Emerg Med Pract. Sep 2019;16(9):1-20.

Trout AT, Towbin AJ, Fierke SR, Zhang B, Larson DB. Appendiceal diameter as a predictor of appendicitis in children: improved diagnosis with three diagnostic categories derived from a logistic predictive model. Eur Radiol. Aug 2015;25(8):2231-8. doi:10.1007/s00330-015-3639-x

Anandalwar SP, Callahan MJ, Bachur RG, et al. Use of White Blood Cell Count and Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte Differential to Improve the Predictive Value of Ultrasound for Suspected Appendicitis in Children. J Am Coll Surg. Jun 2015;220(6):1010-7. doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2015.01.039

Gendel I, Gutermacher M, Buklan G, et al. Relative value of clinical, laboratory and imaging tools in diagnosing pediatric acute appendicitis. Eur J Pediatr Surg. Aug 2011;21(4):229-33. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1273702



Any list of “Top 10 Emergency Department diagnoses in children you can’t miss” should include intussusception. This episode reviews the diagnosis and management in practical manner that should help you on your next shift. It also features the talents of Kriti Gupta, MD, a Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellow from NewYork Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital who is both the producer and host of this episode.


The transcript for this episode can be found on PEMBlog

CME & MOC Part 2

We are proud to offer CME and MOC Part 2 from Cincinnati Children’s. Click this link to go to the page for credit. Credit is free and registration is required.

Click here to claim CME and MOC part 2 Credit

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Shaw, K. N., Bachur, R. G., Chamberlain, J. M., Lavelle, J., Nagler, J., & Shook, J. E. (2021). Fleisher & Ludwig’s Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Wolters Kluwer. 

Dahan, N., & Francisco, B. (2021, November 3). Pediatric small talk – the rule of 6: Pediatric abdominal surgical emergencies. – Emergency Medicine Education. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from 

Sobolewski, B., PEM Blog Intussusception Part 2: Ultrasound-ing good. (2013, September 11). PEMBlog. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from 

Sobolewski, B., Intussusception part 1: The basics. (2013, September 10). PEMBlog. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from  

Fox, S. M. (2013, February 28). Intussusception. Pediatric EM Morsels. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from  

Giovanni JE, Hrapcak S, Melgar M, Godfred-Cato S. Global Reports of Intussusception in Infants With SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2021 Jan;40(1):e35-e36. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002946. PMID: 33105341; PMCID: PMC7720868.

Ultrasonographic Diagnosis of Intussusception in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Ultrasound Med. 2021 Jun;40(6):1077-1084. doi: 10.1002/jum.15504. Epub 2020 Sep 16.

Doo JW, Kim SC. Sedative reduction method for children with intussusception. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Jan;99(5):e18956. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000018956. PMID: 32000420; PMCID: PMC7004751.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, July 25). Rotavirus vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, April 22). Vaccines: VPD-VAC/rotavirus/Rotashield and intussusception historical info. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from

Gynecology Surgery

Ovarian Torsion

Your time is valuable and so is mine. That’s why I’m sharing brief, focused podcast episodes that will hone in on a single problem. This time, it’s ovarian torsion. Learn about the presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of this can’t miss surgical condition.

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I am proud to offer CME and MOC Part II through Cincinnati Children’s for listening to my podcast. All you have to do is listen to these four brief episodes that were released in the last couple of months, and then complete the multiple choice questions at the following link. Note that registration is open to any provider seeking physician CME even if you are not a Cincinnati Children’s employee.

The link to the CME for these episodes are:

The episodes included in this CME / MOC Part II program are:

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome – 10/29/2021

Ovarian Torsion – 11/3/2021

Stress Dose Steroids – 11/9/2021

DVT 11/29/2021

That CME link again is –


Schmitt ER, Ngai SS, Gausche-Hill M, Renslo R. Twist and shout! Pediatric ovarian torsion clinical update and case discussion. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2013 Apr;29(4):518-23; quiz 524-6. PMID: 23558274.

Guile SL, Mathai JK. Ovarian Torsion. [Updated 2021 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:


Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis results from progressive thickening of the pyloric muscle, which leads to gastric outlet obstruction and vomiting in newborns. It is a can’t miss diagnosis and one of the most common surgical problems in newborns. Learn more about the diagnosis and management in this episode of PEM Currents: The Pediatric Emergency Medicine Podcast.

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Kapoor R et al. Prevalence and descriptive epidemiology of infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis in the United States: A multistate, population-based retrospective study, 1999-2010. Birth Defects Res 2019; 111:159.

Tutay et al. Electrolyte profile of pediatric patients with hypertrophic pyloric stenosis. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2013 Apr;29(4):465-8. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31828a3006.