Primary Care Liaison

Intussusception - pre-referral

  • This is an urgent surgical condition.

    See resources for referral form, parent information and more.

    Assessment and when to refer

    For children between 3 months and 2 years -

    History and physical examination:

    • Episodes of colicky abdominal pain several times per hour - drawing up legs and associated with pallor.
    • Thriving infant - often recent URTI or gastroenteritis.
    • Do not rely on presence of a mass to diagnose intussusception.
    • Differentiation from simple viral colic or gastro can be difficult.
      • If in doubt - IMMEDIATE REFERRAL to the Emergency Department.   
    • TIP:infant with intussusception typically does not want to leave mother's arms between episodes.

    Contact information

    For clinical advice call RCH Switchboard tel (03) 9345 5522 and ask for:

    • General surgery registrar or fellow on-call
    • Department of General Surgery - clinical advice
    • Emergency Department - for clinical advice after hours

    For outpatient bookings

    • Fax to 03 9345 5034 (number also on referral form)
    • For urgent appointments please also call 03 9345 6180
    • For private referrals see Paediatrician Listing for private surgeon contact details.

    Admission enquiries call RCH Switchboard tel (03) 9345 5522 and ask for:

    • General admission enquiries (or direct dial 03 9345 6172)
    • ED admission enquiries: (or direct dial 03 9345 6477)



    Urgent paediatric surgical conditions - management guidelines by Tom Clarnette MBBS, MD, FRACS (Paeds). Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, RCH, Melbourne, Australia.


    Please give feedback on this guideline - / telephone: (03) 9345 4645 / fax (03) 9345 4650

    Thanks to Consultant Paediatric Surgeon Tom Clarnette for permission to adapt existing guidelines.  Many thanks to the GPs involved in the review.  First published Dec 2007. Reviewed August 2009.Please read Copyright and Disclaimer.