Neonatology pp 1339-1344 | Cite as

Meconium Plug Syndrome

  • Mario MessinaEmail author
  • Rossella Angotti
  • Francesco Molinaro
Reference work entry


Meconium plug syndrome is a relatively common cause of transient functional colon obstruction in newborn, characterized by delayed passage (>24–48 h) of meconium and intestinal dilatation with an obstruction of the colon with thickened plugs of mucus. The incidence is of 1 in 1,000 births. The clinical presentation is the same as that for a distal intestinal obstruction. Most infants present within their first 24–36 h of life. Clinical and radiological signs of meconium plug syndrome can overlap with other disorders. For these reasons, the diagnosis can be difficult. The treatment of the meconium plug is conservative and consists of stimulation of the rectum or colon in some manner. In many cases, simple finger examination of the rectum or insertion of a rectal thermometer produces enough stimulation to induce peristalsis and promote evacuation of the meconium. In other cases, water-soluble contrast enema examination may induce meconium passage.


  1. Al-Salem H (2014) Meconium plug syndrome. In: An illustrated guide to pediatric surgery. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp 195–197Google Scholar
  2. Burge D, Drewett M (2004) Meconium plug obstruction. Pediatr Surg Int 20:108–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burke MS, Ragi JM, Karamanoukian HL, Kotter M, Brisseau GF, Borowitz DS, Ryan ME, Irish MS, Glick PL (2002) New strategies in nonoperative management of meconium ileus. J Pediatr Surg 37:760–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clatworthy HW Jr, Howard WH, Lloyd J (1956) The meconium plug syndrome. Surgery 39(1):131–142PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Coppola CP (2014) Meconium plug syndrome and meconium ileus. In: Pediatric surgery. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp 183–185Google Scholar
  6. Fuchs JR, Langer JC (1998) Long-term outcome after neonatal meconium obstruction. Pediatrics 101:4–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Keckler SJ, St Peter SD, Spilde TL, Tsao K, Ostlie DJ, Holcomb GW 3rd, Snyder CL (2008) Current significance of meconium plug syndrome. J Pediatr Surg 43(5):896–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lim CT, Yip CH, Chang KW (1994) Meconium ileus-a rare cause of neonatal intestinal obstruction in Malaysia. Singap Med J 35(1):74–76Google Scholar
  9. Mees WJ, Kramer PP, Bax NM (1986) The small left colon in newborn infants. Tijdschr Kindergeneeskd 54(5):143–147PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Pilling DW, Steiner GM (1981) The radiology of meconium ileus equivalent. Br J Radiol 54(643):562–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Rescorla FJ, Grosfeld JL (1993) Contemporary management of meconium ileus. World J Surg 17(3):318–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Swischuk LE (1968) Meconium plug syndrome: a cause of neonatal intestinal obstruction. Am J Roentgenol Radium Ther Nucl Med 103(2):339–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Swischuk LE (1997) Imaging of the newborn, infant, and young child, 4th edn. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario Messina
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rossella Angotti
    • 3
  • Francesco Molinaro
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsObstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, Section of Pediatric Surgery, Policlinico “Le Scotte”, University of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Medical, Surgical and Neurological Sciences, Section of Pediatric SurgeryUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsObstetrics and Reproductive Medicine, Section of Pediatric Surgery, University of SienaSienaItaly

Personalised recommendations