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December 19, 1966

Barium Enemas Relieve Meconium Blockage

JAMA. 1966;198(12):40. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110250022009

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Newborn infants troubled with low intestinal obstruction caused by meconium blockage can be relieved of such distress with one or more barium enemas, a Los Angeles radiologist reported.

Victor G. Mikity, MD, in a review of 40 cases of meconium blockage studied on the Los Angeles County Hospital's newborn service, said that "the barium enema is not only therapeutic, it is also diagnostic."

The meconium blockage syndrome produces a clinical picture of mechanical obstruction in the newborn which is indistinguishable from other causes of low intestinal obstruction. Routine x-ray films show only a blockage low in the intestine, explained Dr. Mikity, but do not pinpoint a definite cause.

In all but 2 of the 40 cases reviewed, radiographs showed a bubbly appearance of the intraluminal gas in the proximal small bowel— caused by meconium mixed with air —which was either subtle or very obvious. Abdominal radiographs showed a low intestinal