Abdominal Wall Defects

Neoreviews. 2020 Jun;21(6):e383-e391. doi: 10.1542/neo.21-6-e383.


The 2 most common congenital abdominal wall defects are gastroschisis and omphalocele. Both are usually diagnosed prenatally with fetal ultrasonography, and affected patients are treated at a center with access to high-risk obstetric services, neonatology, and pediatric surgery. The main distinguishing features between the 2 are that gastroschisis has no sac and the defect is to the right of the umbilicus, whereas an omphalocele typically has a sac and the defect is at the umbilicus. In addition, patients with an omphalocele have a high prevalence of associated anomalies, whereas those with gastroschisis have a higher likelihood of abnormalities related to the gastrointestinal tract, with the most common being intestinal atresia. As such, the prognosis in patients with omphalocele is primarily affected by the severity and number of other anomalies and the prognosis for gastroschisis is correlated with the amount and function of the bowel. Because of these distinctions, these defects have different management strategies and outcomes. The goal of surgical treatment for both conditions consists of reduction of the abdominal viscera and closure of the abdominal wall defect; primary closure or a variety of staged approaches can be used without injury to the intra-abdominal contents through direct injury or increased intra-abdominal pressure, or abdominal compartment syndrome. Overall, the long-term outcome is generally good. The ability to stratify patients, particularly those with gastroschisis, based on risk factors for higher morbidity would potentially improve counseling and outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastroschisis / diagnosis*
  • Gastroschisis / surgery*
  • Hernia, Umbilical / diagnosis*
  • Hernia, Umbilical / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn