Gastroschisis, sometimes called laparoschisis, refers to the presence of a hole in the abdominal wall of the fetus, through which loops of intestines (and sometimes stomach, liver and other organs) protrude. The term only applies to those conditions where the hole is located to the side of the umbilicus (umbilical cord); this hole is almost always to the left of the umbilical cord.
Gastroschisis is not the same as omphalocele, which refers to a hole in the abdominal wall in the belly button. Although both conditions appear the same (intestines protruding outside the abdomen), each condition has its own features. Abdominal wall defects can be detected by ultrasound from the third month of pregnancy (14 to 15 weeks). As the pregnancy progresses, diagnosis becomes more accurate: loops of intestine can then be seen outside the abdomen, "floating" into the amniotic cavity.
Gastroschisis occurs in approximately 1 of every 2,000 live births, making it a relatively "common" congenital anomaly. In fact, its incidence seems to be increasing in recent years, for unknown reasons.
The Fetal Treatment Program is a partnership of Hasbro Children's Hospital, Women & Infants' Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.