What is Pyloric Stenosis?

Pyloric stenosis is a condition that develops in newborns, from birth to about two months of age. The "pyloric muscle" is the muscular wall in the last part of the stomach, just before it empties into the small intestine. This muscular wall can thicken so much that the stomach can no longer empty. Vomiting occurs that can become so forceful that it is called "projectile vomiting”. The baby becomes progressively dehydrated. Urine output decreases, with fewer wet diapers. The baby loses weight and blood chemistries (electrolytes) become abnormal (low potassium, low chloride, "metabolic alkalosis").

Treatment begins with correction of dehydration and blood chemistry abnormalities using intravenous (IV) fluids. The diagnosis is confirmed by using ultrasound. Sometimes a traditional infant "upper gi" X-ray is performed as well. 

Once diagnosis is confirmed, and the dehydration and blood chemistries are corrected, pediatric surgeons at Penn State Children’s Hospital perform a "plyoromyotomy" operation to correct the problem. The "pyloromyotomy" operation is usually performed using laparoscopy (" surgery" / "video-endoscopic surgery") using only tiny "poke-holes" into the  abdomen rather than a traditional incision.

Most infants feed soon after surgery and are discharged within a day or two. There may be some vomiting after surgery, but usually very little.

Pyloric stenosis should only be treated by pediatric surgeons at a Children’s Hospital.

Why Choose Penn State Children’s Hospital for Care

Ranked Among the Nation’s Best

Penn State Children's Hospital is proud to be one of the nation's top children's hospitals.

  • U.S. News and World Report has ranked us as one of the best children’s hospitals every year. Learn more about our rankings. We are one of only 84 children's hospitals recognized in any specialty.
  • We are one of eight hospitals in the country, and the only one in Pennsylvania, to be named as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center by The American College of Surgeons (ACS) for excellence in pediatric surgical care.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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