​Pyloric Stenosis


Pyloric stenosis is a rare disorder in infants in which the pylorus becomes narrow; blocking the entry of food into the small intestine. Pylorus is the passage that leads from the stomach to the small intestine. The blocking of pylorus occurs when the pylorus muscles thicken and enlarge. This usually happens in the first six weeks after birth. 

The exact cause of pyloric stenosis is unknown. It is usually not a congenital (birth) disorder and mostly develops later. Risk factors associated with pyloric stenosis include:

  • Gender; it is most common in boys than girls

  • Premature birth

  • Family history

  • Smoking by the mother during pregnancy

  • Bottle-feeding

  • Early use of certain antibiotics in infants

Signs and symptoms of pyloric stenosis include:

  • Excessive, forceful vomiting, usually within half an hour of feed that can be projected up to several feet. The vomit is usually yellow and may have brown specks of blood

  • Persistent hunger, demanding feed even after vomiting

  • Irritability

  • Loss of weight or no weight gain

  • Dehydration

  • Fewer and smaller stools

  • Visible ripples or waves across the stomach after a feed as the stomach tries to force the feed down

Pyloric stenosis requires immediate medical attention. Therefore, visit our doctors at the Children's Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital in Pakistan, if you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms in your child.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The doctor will initiate the diagnosis by inquiring about your child’s feeding habits in detail. Make sure to mention all the relevant details about the vomiting and other symptoms you may notice in your child. Following this, the doctor may perform a physical exam to look for a tell-tale olive-shaped lump in the abdomen that indicates thickened pylorus. The ripples that appear on the stomach after a test feed also indicate pyloric stenosis. To further aid the diagnosis, the doctor may recommend the following tests:

  • Blood test to check for dehydration or electrolyte imbalance or both

  • Ultrasound, in which sound waves and a sensor is used to create an image on the computer to be studied by the doctor. Sound waves are sent by a handheld device that is moved across the abdomen

  • X-rays to generate a clearer image of your baby’s digestive system

Pyloric stenosis is considered a dangerous disease as infants cannot remain hungry for long as this can lead to other illnesses and complications. Therefore, our vigilant team of staff at the <Children's Hospital Service> at The Aga Khan University Hospital makes sure to perform the necessary treatments on the same day as the diagnosis.

The only treatment for pyloric stenosis is a surgical procedure called pyloromyotomy. This is performed under general anaesthesia. In this surgery, the doctor cuts through the outside layer of the thickened and enlarged pylorus muscle to allow the food to pass through. If your baby is dehydrated from excessive vomiting, replacement fluids will be administered before the surgery. After the surgery, your child will be given intravenous fluids until they can feed on their own. The vomiting may continue for a while after the surgery. Complications associated with this surgery include bleeding and infection.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.