African Journal of Paediatric Surgery About APSON | PAPSA  
Home About us Editorial Board Current issue Search Archives Ahead Of Print Subscribe Instructions Submission Contact Login 
Users Online: 748Print this page  Email this page Bookmark this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 279-282
Meckel's diverticulum in paediatric practice on Crete (Greece): A 10-year review

Department of Paediatric Surgery, University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication11-Jan-2012


Background: Although Meckel's diverticulum (MD) is the most prevalent congenital abnormality of the gastrointestinal tract, it has varied presentations and often becomes a diagnostic challenge. The purpose of this study was to review the diverse presentations of MD, record the epidemiologic features for Crete and review the detection techniques and the treatment options. Patients and Methods: This was a review of the records of all children who underwent surgery for MD in the department of Paediatric Surgery of the University Hospital of Crete (Greece) between January 1999 and January 2009. Result: A total of 45 patients (32 male and 13 female) aged 1 to 13 years (median 10 years) with a diagnosis of MD were retrospectively reviewed. The collected data were analysed, looking at age, gender, clinical features, investigations, histopathological findings and surgical interventions. In 25 patients, MD was an incidental finding at laparotomy because of appendicitis. The remaining 20 patients were symptomatic and presented with various clinical features. Nine patients (19.9%) had clinical features of peritonitis; of these, three had perforated MD and six had Meckel's diverticulitis at laparotomy. Four patients were diagnosed with intestinal obstruction. Seven patients (15.5%) presented with lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Ultrasound scans revealed intussusception in three patients, requiring open reduction. The remaining four patients with bleeding per rectum underwent a Meckel's Tc99 scan that showed a positive tracer. Conclusion: All patients with MD underwent Meckel's diverticulectomy with appendicectomy. MD has an incidence of approximately 1 to 2% in our population. It is necessary to maintain a high index of suspicion in the in the diagnosis of MD paediatric age group because it can be easily misdiagnosed.

Keywords: Incidental findings, laparotomy, Meckel′s diverticulum, Meckel′s scan, paediatric, symptomatic

How to cite this article:
Blevrakis E, Partalis N, Seremeti C, Sakellaris G. Meckel's diverticulum in paediatric practice on Crete (Greece): A 10-year review. Afr J Paediatr Surg 2011;8:279-82

How to cite this URL:
Blevrakis E, Partalis N, Seremeti C, Sakellaris G. Meckel's diverticulum in paediatric practice on Crete (Greece): A 10-year review. Afr J Paediatr Surg [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Sep 26];8:279-82. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Meckel's diverticulum (MD) is one of the most common congenital abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract, occurring in approximately 2% of the population. [1] Nearly two centuries have passed since its first description by Johan Friederich Meckel. [2] MD is a true intestinal diverticulum that results from the failure of the vitelline duct to obliterate during the fifth week of foetal development. It contains all normal layers of the intestinal wall and, in approximately 50 percent of cases, contains tissue from other sites (ectopic tissue). In the majority of cases, it is asymptomatic. However, it is prone to complications, especially in children, due to ectopic epithelial lining and various bands, reflective of its embryological development. Although the lifetime risk of a Meckel's diverticular complication varies from 4 to 34%, [3] more than 50 to 60% of the patients who develop symptoms are younger than 2 years of age. [4] MD has varied presentations, as several authors have previously demonstrated. [5],[6],[7],[8] Harper et al. suggested that a bleeding MD should be identifiable scintigraphically using 99mTc pertechnetate, since it is concentrated by gastric mucosa. [9] The Tc99 Meckel's scan has a reported sensitivity of 81 to 90%. [10],[11],[12],[13] The purpose of this study was to review the various presentations of MD, to estimate the epidemiologic features and the extent of this clinical entity in Crete (Greece) and to review the detection techniques and treatment options.

   Materials and Methods Top

The records of all children who underwent surgery for MD in the department of Paediatric Surgery of the University Hospital of Crete (Greece) between January 1999 and January 2009 were reviewed. This set of records represents the majority of the children with MD on Crete as this department is nonce for all the surgical diseases of children for the whole island, and therefore, for MD. They were analysed with respect to their age at presentation, gender, clinical features, histopathological findings, investigations and surgical intervention performed.

   Results Top

During the above period, 45 children were found to have MD. The youngest child was 1 year old, whereas the oldest was 13 years. There were 32 males and 13 females, giving a male to female ratio of 2.46 : 1. In 25 patients, MD was an incidental finding at laparotomy for some other pathology. The remaining 20 patients were symptomatic and presented with various clinical features. Nine patients (20%) had clinical features of peritonitis; of these, six had Meckel's diverticulitis and three had perforated MD at laparotomy. Four patients (8.9%) were diagnostic with intestinal obstruction and, at laparotomy, a Meckel's band was found to be the cause of the obstruction. Seven patients (15.5%) presented with episodes of bleeding per rectum or melaena [Table 1]. None of these patients required blood transfusion. Ultrasound scans revealed intussusception in three patients, requiring open reduction. The remaining four patients with bleeding per rectum underwent a Meckel's Tc99 scan that showed a positive tracer. All patients underwent successful Meckel's diverticulectomy with appendicectomy. Either in the early postoperative period (until 24 hours after the surgery) or in the late postoperative period, there were no complications.
Table 1: Clinical image

Click here to view

Histology revealed ectopic gastric mucosa in 18 patients (40%), both located at the proximal and the distal end of the diverticulum. Five patients (11.1%) had a histology result of mucosa of the small intestine, three patients (6.6%) had a histology result of ectopic pancreatic tissue and one patient (2.2%) of both gastric and pancreatic ectopic tissue [Table 2].
Table 2: Histopathological fi ndings

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Though the first recorded observation of an ileal diverticulum has been attributed to Fabricius Hildamus in 1650, Littre reported its presence in a hernia in 1745 and Meckel first described its association with the omphalomesenteric duct. The omphalomesenteric duct connects the yolk sac to the intestinal tract during early foetal life. This structure is usually obliterated by the fifth to seventh week of gestation. [14] Failure to regress may lead to several anomalies including omphalomesenteric fistula, umbilical sinus, umbilical cyst, or MD. The MD may be free (74%) or attached (26%) by fibrous bands to the umbilicus. [3] Persistence of the vitelline arteries may lead to the formation of a mesodiverticular band which can lead to intestinal obstruction. [15] MD is the most common congenital malformation of the small intestine, affecting about 2% of the population. [6] Only 4 to 6% of MD is known to be symptomatic [6],[16] and the presentations can be quite varied. The male to female ratio is reported as 2 : 1 to 4 : 1, [5],[6],[17] which is in keeping with the ratio seen in our series. Some series found ileus, due to adhesive bands, to be the most common presentation in patients below ten years of age and haemorrhage in patients below 20 years of age. [7] However, we found peritonitis to be the most common symptomatic presentation of MD, especially in children below ten years of age. This likely reflects the high incidence of ectopic gastric mucosa encountered in our series and the ulceration that this creates.

Although most authors would recommend resection of an incidentally detected MD at laparotomy, [1],[17] others advocate their resection only in selected cases of MD which are suspected of having ectopic gastric mucosa or forming adhesive bands. [5] In our series, all 25 patients who had their MD detected incidentally during laparotomy underwent diverticulectomy. Those MD patients with clinical features of peritonitis are often mistakenly diagnosed as perforated appendicitis. At laparotomy, of the nine patients with peritonitis, three had a perforated MD and six had Meckel's diverticulitis. There were no cases of concurrent appendiceal pathology. Similarly, in cases of intestinal obstruction due to a Meckel's band, the cause is often not found until the band is directly visualised.

Diagnosis and management of complicated or incidental MD in children has undergone significant changes in the minimal access era . The diagnosis of Meckel's diverticular complications, based on clinical features and conventional radiological modalities, is fraught with limitations as MD is a mobile structure and mimics other common conditions. Meckel's diverticular bleeding, the commonest presentation related to complicated MD, ranges from 1 to 10%, but should be less in this modern era of early diagnosis and minimal invasive therapy. [18]

In diagnosis, the most precise test in childhood is gammagraphy with Tc99m pertechnetate (Meckel's scan). Other imaging methods such as ultrasonography, computer tomography, barium meal and angiography can rarely diagnose this condition. [14],[19] The prerequisite for the detection of an MD by Tc99 sodium pertechnetate scintigraphy is the presence of ectopic gastric mucosa. The high affinity of this isotope for parietal cells of gastric mucosa permits visualisation of both eutopic and ectopic gastric tissue. The residual isotope is concentrated in the urinary bladder. A positive scan shows abnormal uptake of the isotope outside the stomach and urinary bladder. The Meckel's scan has a reported sensitivity of 81 to 90%. [10],[11],[12],[13] The incidence of ectopic gastric tissue in MD in symptomatic patients is reported to be 45 to 80%. [7],[8],[20] Haemorrhage usually occurs secondary to ectopic gastric mucosa. Diverticulitis commonly occurs secondary to acid secretion from ectopic gastric mucosa. The presence of ectopic mucosa, particularly pancreatic, is also a predisposing factor for intestinal obstruction. The incidence of ectopic mucosa in MD is reported in the literature from 15 to 50% [3],[21],[22],[23] depending on the percentage of incidental or autopsy cases in each series. Mackey and Dineen [24] reported a 16.4% and 34% incidence of ectopic mucosa in asymptomatic and symptomatic Meckel's diverticulae, respectively. Artigas et al. [15] concluded that the presence of ectopic tissue in patients with MD seems to be the main risk for occurrence of an acute non-mechanical complication. Ectopic gastric tissue is found in 60 to 82%, pancreatic in 1 to 16% and both in 5 to 12% of cases. Other less common tissues include colonic, duodenal and biliary. [3],[25],[26] Reported mortality and morbidity for MD are 6 to 7.5% and 6 to 30%, respectively. In our series, there were no deaths.

It is well accepted that incidental MD should not be removed from patients older than 40 years, [27],[28] but no specific guidelines exist for the paediatric population. Several authors [21],[29],[30] suggest removal of all asymptomatic Meckel's diverticulae because of high risks of complication and the low risks associated with resection. However, Soltero and Bill, [16] using lifetime risk tables, found that to prevent one death, 800 cases of incidental Meckel diverticulectomy would need to be performed. They suggested that incidental removal is not justifiable unless obvious risk factors are present. The accepted risk factors are suspicion of ectopic mucosa on palpation, fibrous bands to the umbilicus, mesodiverticular bands, or the presence of surrounding inflammation. [15],[16],[31],[32] A review of 1 476 patients showed a 20% morbidity and 3% mortality for resection of an asymptomatic MD and a 13% morbidity and 0% mortality in symptomatic patients. The authors of the study observed that patient aged <50 years, male gender, diverticula longer than 2 cm and ectopic mucosa or abnormal features within a diverticulum were all characteristics seen more commonly in symptomatic patients. [33] A smaller series (47) including all patients who had undergone removal of a MD over a 10-year period in a single institution also concluded that male patients were more likely to develop symptoms. The authors recorded a surgical complication rate of 8.5% and recommended that if asymptomatic diverticula are encountered, they should not be routinely resected, especially in female patients. [34]

In conclusion, MD is a lesion present in approximately 1 to 2% of the general population. MD has various presentations and can be easily misdiagnosed. It is necessary to maintain a high index of suspicion in the paediatric age group.

   References Top

1.Ludtke FE, Mende V, Kohler H, Incidence and frequency of complications and management of Meckel's diverticulum. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1989;169:537-42.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Meckel JF. About the diverticulum of the intestine. Arch Physiol (Halle) 1809;9:421-53.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Moore GP, Burkle FM Jr. Isolated axial volvulus of a Meckel's diverticulum. Am J Emerg Med 1988;6:137-42.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Malhotra S, Roth DA, Gourge TH, Hofstetter SR, Sidhu G, Newman E. Gangrene of Meckel's diverticulum secondary to axial torsion: A rare complication. Am J Gastroenterol 1988;93:1373-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.St-Vill D, Brandt ML, Panic S, Bensoussan AL, Blanchard H. Meckel's diverticulum in children: A 20 -year review. J Pediatr Surg 1991;26:1289-92.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Yahchouchy EK, Marano AF, Etienne JF, Fingerhut AL. Meckel's diverticulum. J Am Coll Surg 2001;192:658-61.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Bemelman WA, Huhenholtz E, Heij HA, Wiersma PH. Meckel's diverticulum in Amsterdam: Experience in 136 patients. World J Surg 1995;19:734-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Park JJ, Wolff BG, Tollesfon MK, Walsh EE, Larson DR. Meckel's diverticulum: The Mayo Clinic experience with 1476 patients (1950-2002). Ann Surg 2005;241:529-33.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Harper PV, Andros G, Lathop K. Preliminary observations on the use of six-hour 99Tc as a tracer in biology and medicine. Semiannual Report, Argonne Cancer Research Hospital; 1962. vol 18. p. 76.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Cooney DR, Duszynski DO, Camboa E, Karp MP, Jewett TC Jr. The abdominal technetium scan (a decade of experience). J Pediatr Surg 1982;17:611-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Rerksuppaphol S, Hutson JM, Oliver MR. Ranitidine enchanced 99 m Tc pertechnetate imaging in children improves the sensitivity of identifying heterotopic gastric mucosa in Meckel's diverticulum. Pediatr Surg Int 2004;20:323-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Sfakianakis GN, Conway JJ. Detection of ectopic gastric mucosa in Meckel's diverticulum and in other aberrations by scintigraphy: II. Indications and methods-a 10-year experience. J Nucl Med 1981;22:732-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Kong MS, Chen CY, Tzen KY, Huang MJ, Wang KL, Lin JN. Technetium-99m pertechnetate scan for ectopic gastric mucosa in children with gastrointestinal bleeding. J Formos Med Assoc 1993;92:717-20.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Levy AD, Hobbs CM. Meckel diverticulum: Radiologic features with pathologic correlation. Radiographics 2004;24:565-87.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Artigas V, Calabuig R, Badia F, Rius X, Allende L, Jover J. Meckel's diverticulum: Value of ectopic tissue. Am J Surg 1986;151:631-4.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Soltero JH, Bill AH. The natural history of Meckel's diverticulum and its relation to incidental removal. Am J Surg 1976;32:168-73.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Cullen JJ, Kelly KA, Moir CR, Hodge DO, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd. Surgical management of Meckel's diverticulum: An epidemiologic, population-based study. Ann Surg 1994;220:564-9.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Park JJ, Wolf BG, Tollefson MK, Walsh EE, Larson DR. Meckel diverticulum: The Mayo Clinic experience with 1476 patients (1950-2002). Ann Surg 2005;241:529-33.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Lu CC, Huang FC, Lee SY, Huang HY. Laparoscopy diagnosis and treatment excision of bleeding Meckel's diverticulum in a child: Report of one case. Acta Paediatr Taiwan 2003;44:41-3.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Shalaby RY, Soliman SM, Fawy M, Samaha A. Laparoscopic management of Meckel's diverticulum in children. J Pediatr Surg 2005;40:562-7.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Aubrey A, Wales C. Meckel's diverticulum. Arch Surg 1970;100:144-6.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Debartolo HM, Van Heerden JA. Meckel's diverticulum. Ann Surg 1976;183:30-3.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Frederick PL, Johnson ET. Meckel's diverticulum in childhood. Postgrad Med 1983;33:341-8.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Mackey WC, Dineen P. A fifty year experience with Meckel's diverticulum. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1983;156:56-64.  Back to cited text no. 24
25.Yamaguchi M, Takeuchi S, Awazu S. Meckel's diverticulum, investigation of 600 patients in the Japanese literature. Am J Surg 1978;136:247-9.  Back to cited text no. 25
26.Williams RS. Management of Meckel's diverticulum. Br J Surg 1981;68:477-80.  Back to cited text no. 26
27.Mcparland FA, Kiesewetter WB. Meckel's diverticulum in childhood. Surg Gynecol Obstet 1958;106:11-4.  Back to cited text no. 27
28.Munro I. Meckel's diverticulum, surgical guidelines at last. Lancet 1983;2:438-9.  Back to cited text no. 28
29.Vane DW, West KW, Grosfeld JL. Vitteline duct anomalies. Arch Surg 1987;122:542-7.  Back to cited text no. 29
30.Pellerin D, Harouchi A, Delmas P. Meckel's Diverticulum, revision of 250 children cases. Ann Chir Infant 1976;17:157-72.  Back to cited text no. 30
31.Simms MH, Corkery JJ. Meckel's diverticulum: Its association with congenital malformation and the significance of atypical morphology. Br J Surg 1980;67:216-9.  Back to cited text no. 31
32.Reicheld S, Himal HS. Symptomatic Meckel's diverticulum in adults. Ann R Coll Physicians Surg 1990;23:274-6.  Back to cited text no. 32
33.Das PC, Rao PL, Radhakrishna K. Meckel's diverticulum in children. J Postgrad Med 1992;38:19-20.  Back to cited text no. 33
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
34.Stone PA, Hofeldt MJ, Campbell JE, Vedula G, DeLuca JA, Flaherty SK. Meklel diverticulum: Ten year experience in adults. South Med J 2004;97:1038-41.  Back to cited text no. 34

Correspondence Address:
George Sakellaris
EL. Venizelou 105, Greece - 70014

Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0189-6725.91665

Rights and Permissions


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Revisiting the forgotten remnant: Imaging spectrum of Meckelís diverticulum
Manish Kumar, Priya Singh, Priti Kumari, Rohit Kaushik
South African Journal of Radiology. 2022; 26(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Value of sonographic pseudogestational sac sign in the diagnosis of Meckel diverticulum in children presenting with bleeding per rectum: a 15-year prospective study
Samar M. El-Maadawy, Nesreen Alaaeldin, Vassil N. Zefov
Egyptian Journal of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. 2021; 52(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Surgical perspectives of symptomatic omphalomesenteric duct remnants: Differences between infancy and beyond
Ayoung Kang, Soo-Hong Kim, Yong-Hoon Cho, Hae-Young Kim
World Journal of Clinical Cases. 2021; 9(36): 11228
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Clinicopathologic Characteristics and Treatment Outcomes of Symptomatic Meckel's Diverticulum in Children
Hyun Wook Shin, Yoo Na Kang, Jinyoung Park
Advances in Pediatric Surgery. 2021; 27(1): 8
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Diagnostic accuracy of high-frequency ultrasound in bleeding Meckel diverticulum in children
Yanxiu Hu, Xiaoman Wang, Liqun Jia, Yu Wang, Yue Xin
Pediatric Radiology. 2020; 50(6): 833
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Complicated Meckel's Diverticulum in Children: Clinical Presentation, Diagnostic Work-Out, Surgical Approach and Postoperative Complications
Susan Vaabengaard, Line Andersen, Niels Qvist, Lars Rasmussen, Inge Ifaoui, Kristine Knudsen, Mark Ellebśk
Cureus. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
S Pramod, G S Meghan, G Sridhar
Indian Journal of Child Health. 2019; 6(6): 323
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 A Pediatric Case of Meckel Diverticulum with Uncommon Presentation Showing No Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Sanaz Mehrabani, Soheil Osia
Pediatric Reports. 2017; 9(1): 6973
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Ileal obstruction from Meckelśs diverticulum in a neonate: A†case†report and review of literature
Akputa Aja Obasi,Sebastian O. Ekenze,Uchechukwu Ogbobe
Journal of Pediatric Surgery Case Reports. 2015; 3(10): 423
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Radiologic Imaging in Meckel Diverticulum Complications
Erin Leslee Dames,Ehab Shaban Mahmoud Hamouda
Journal of Medical Ultrasound. 2015; 23(3): 133
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
11 Meckel diverticulum in children: Evaluation of macroscopic appearance for guidance in subsequent surgery
Hasan ÷zkan Gezer,Abdulkerim Temiz,Emine Ince,Semire Serin Ezer,Bermal Hasbay,Akgun HiÁsŲnmez
Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2015;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
12 Symptomatic paediatric Meckelís diverticulum
Mazin Al Janabi,Madan Samuel,Andrea Kahlenberg,Sujith Kumar,Mina Al-Janabi
Nuclear Medicine Communications. 2014; 35(11): 1162
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
13 Clinical Features of Symptomatic Meckelśs Diverticulum in Children: Comparison of Scintigraphic and Non-scintigraphic Diagnosis
Jung Hee Rho,Jae Sook Kim,Sang Yong Kim,Soon Ki Kim,Yoon Mi Choi,Sung Min Kim,Hann Tchah,In Sang Jeon,Dong Woo Son,Eell Ryoo,Kang Ho Cho,Deok Young Choi,Yoon Mi Kim
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition. 2013; 16(1): 41
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
14 result 2 Document A common case of gastroenteritis in a child followed by an axial torsion of meckel diverticulum: A rare and unusual complication
Tassinari, D., Cimatti, A.G., Tani, G., Lima, M.
BMJ Case Reports. 2013;
15 result 1 Document A microscopically calcified Meckelśs diverticulum: A histopathological perspective of a case of both gastric and pancreatic mucosae
Authors of Document Al-Lami, A., Alam, M., Nagy, A., Khan, A.R.
Source of the Document BMJ Case Reports. 2013;


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Materials and Me...
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded349    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 15    

Recommend this journal