What are abdominal wall abnormalities?

Also known as: abdominal wall defect, omphalocele, gastroschisis

When an infant has a birth defect that involves an opening in the abdomen, this is known as an abdominal wall abnormality or abdominal wall defect. Often, certain organs (stomach, intestines, liver or other organs) can protrude through this unusual opening, which can lead to major complications immediately after birth.

There are two main types of abdominal wall defects; omphalocele and gastroschisis. In omphaloceles, a membrane usually covers the intestines, protecting it from the amniotic fluid in which the baby floats in the uterus. In gastroschisis, there is no membrane, and the bowel can be scarred by the amniotic fluid. Many times, these defects are found during the mother’s pregnancy on her ultrasound screening exams.


Reviewed by: Cathy Anne Burnweit, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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