Omphalocele is an abdominal wall defect which causes the liver, intestines or other organs to develop outside of the body. In the first 6 to 10 weeks of a normal pregnancy, the intestines push out from the abdomen into the umbilical cord but by week 11 the intestine move back into the abdomen. An omphalocele happens when this fails to occur.
In a small omphalocele only some of the intestines develop outside of the abdominal wall. But with a large omphalocele many organs may have developed outside of body, protected only by a thin, transparent sac. Infants born with an omphalocele may not develop an abdominal cavity adequate to hold the organs. There is a risk of infection if the sac surrounding the organs is broken. Organs may become pinched or twisted and damaged by the resulting loss of blood flow.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 5,386 infants born in the US each year has an omphalocele. Many of these infants have additional birth defects including heart defects, neural tube defects, and chromosomal abnormalities. Outcomes depend on the size of the omphalocele and what other defects are present.
For more information on Omphalocele visit:
CDC – Facts about Omphalocele
USF Fetal Medicine Center – What is Omphalocele?
Emedicine – Pediatric Omphalocele