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Pyloric stenosis

Constriction of the exit from the stomach caused by convulsive contraction (spasm) or constriction of the pyloric muscle. The condition occurs particularly in boy babies two to six weeks old, and sometimes in adults as a complication of stomach ulcers. It prevents the passage of food from the stomach to the duodenum. In infants the symptoms develop gradually, in 1 to 2 weeks, but sometimes begin suddenly. The most important symptom is vomiting with great force, so-called projectile vomiting, which can project vomit over several metres. The vomiting is worst in the mornings and evenings. All other symptoms are the direct result of the vomiting: loss of weight, small quantities of faeces, relatively dry nappies and possibly dehydration. Treatment is by surgery to cut open part of the constricted muscle; only in mild cases can medicine be given and developments awaited. If pyloric stenosis occurs as a result of a stomach or duodenal ulcer the symptoms are less drastic, consisting of vomiting and a full feeling in the stomach. The symptoms sometimes disappear if the stomach is given a period of rest, reducing the swelling of the pyloric orifice, which then allows food to pass. In other cases surgery is necessary to provide a new connection between stomach and intestine.

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