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Gastroschisis Repair—Child

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Gastroschisis Repair—Child


Gastroschisis repair is surgery to close a gap in the abdominal wall. The gap is caused by a birth defect called a gastroschisis.

Reasons for Procedure

Gastroschisis happens when the muscles and skin of the abdominal wall of a fetus do not fully close. As a result, abdominal tissue and organs can pass to the outside of the body.

Surgery is needed soon after birth to put the organs inside the body and repair the gap. More than one surgery may be needed. It depends on the size of the gap.

Normal Anatomy of the Abdominal Organs.

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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Feeding problems
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Injury to intestinal tissue
  • Twisting of or blockage in the intestine
  • Nutrition problems if a large segment of small intestine was removed

What to Expect

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if your child is not getting better or has:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the wound
  • Signs of pain, such as irritability
  • New or worsening symptoms

Call for emergency medical services right away if your baby has:

  • Problems breathing
  • Signs of bowel obstruction, such as:
    • High fever
    • Signs of pain when the belly is touched
    • Belly swelling or hardness
    • Green or yellow vomit

If you think your baby is having an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Specialists your baby may need to see
  • Tests that may need to be done before surgery

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Specialists your baby may need to see
  • Tests that may need to be done before surgery


General anesthesia will be used. Your baby will be asleep.

Description of the Procedure

The extent of the surgery depends on the size of the gastroschisis. General steps may be:

  • Opening a larger hole in the abdomen to view the area and make room for the exposed tissue
  • Removing any damaged intestine and connecting the healthy ends together
  • Placing organs and other exposed tissue back into their proper place
  • Repairing the abdominal wall and closing the opening

Intestines may be swollen and hard to put 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 protected with a plastic device. The device will slowly push the intestines back into the abdomen as the swelling goes down or the abdominal cavity enlarges. More surgery will be needed to complete the repair and close the skin.

How Long Will It Take?

It depends on how much repair is needed.

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

The length of stay depends on the repairs that were done. This may take 1 to 2 months.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may give your baby:

  • Pain medicines
  • IV fluids and nutritional support
  • Oxygen therapy and breathing support

During your baby's stay, staff will take steps to lower the chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your baby’s wounds covered

You can also lower your baby's chance of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your baby’s wounds

At Home

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 the right amount of nutrition.





  • About gastroschisis. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. Available as: https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/gastroschisis#.VPuPR46j99k.
  • Facts about gastroschisis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available as: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/Gastroschisis.html.
  • Gastroschisis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/gastroschisis.
  • Skarsgard ED. Management of gastroschisis. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2016 Jun;28(3):363-369.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.