by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Gastroschisis repair is a surgical procedure to close a gap in the abdominal wall. The gap is caused by a birth defect.
A gastroschisis may be small and only involve a section of intestines or be large and involve other abdominal organs. It may also be associated with abnormal development of the intestine called intestinal atresia.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
With a gastroschisis, the muscles and skin of the abdominal wall do not close completely during fetal development. As a result, abdominal tissue and organs can pass to the outside of the body.
Gastroschisis repair is necessary for the baby’s survival. It is done soon after birth. Multiple procedures may be needed to complete this process.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure depend on the size of the defect. The doctor will review potential problems, like:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Supportive steps will be taken after birth and before the surgery including:
General anesthesia is used. The baby will be asleep during the procedure.
Description of the Procedure TOP
The extent of the surgery depends on the size of the gastroschisis. General steps may include:
Intestines may be swollen and difficult to place back into the abdominal cavity or there may not be enough room to fit them all in at first. Some intestine may be left outside of the abdomen and covered in a protective plastic device. The device will gradually push the intestines back into the abdomen as the swelling goes down or the abdominal cavity enlarges. Later, surgeries will complete the repairs and close the skin.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
The baby will be taken to a recovery room and monitored.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
It depends on how much repair is needed.
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Additional medication will be given to relieve pain or soreness during recovery.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
The length of stay depends on the extent of the repair needed. Proper feeding, weight gain, and bowel function are needed before the baby can go home. This may take several days or weeks.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
A neonatal intensive care unit will monitor blood pressure, pulse, and breathing. Recovery may also include:
The hospital staff will take steps to reduce the chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your baby’s chances of infection such as:
Recovery may take some time and require a special diet. The doctor will monitor the baby’s growth and overall health to make sure the baby is getting adequate nutrition.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Contact your child's doctor if your child's recovery is not progressing as expected or your child develops complications such as:
Call for emergency medical service right away if your baby has:
If you think your baby has an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
March of Dimes
March of Dimes Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
About Gastroschisis. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available as:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
February 01, 2012. Accessed May 3, 2016.
Facts About Gastroschisis. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available as:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
November 12, 2015. Accessed May 3, 2016.
Gamba P, Midrio P. Abdominal wall defects: prenatal diagnosis, newborn management, and long-term outcomes. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2014 Oct;23(5):283-90.
Skarsgard ED. Management of gastroschisis. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2016 Jun;28(3):363-369.
Last reviewed May 2018 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 6/14/2016
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