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What is exomphalos?

What is gastroschisis?

Exomphalos, sometimes called omphalocele, occurs when the abdomen fails to close around the base of the umbilical cord during the early development of the baby.

The size of the exomphalos depends on the number of organs exposed. This is usually the bowel but may include the liver and other organs.

The sac containing the exposed organs is usually covered in a protective membrane. The abdominal cavity is sometimes smaller in exomphalos children due to the organs growing externally.

In about 30% of cases, Exomphalos occurs in conjunction with other birth defects.


The baby has a defect in the abdominal wall to one side of the umbilical cord (usually the right side). Some of the bowel has escaped through this hole and develops outside of the baby's abdomen.

The bowel floats around in the amniotic fluid in the mother's womb for most of the pregnancy. 

Surgery to repair the gastroschisis is not always possible immediately after birth. Many factors, including the amount of bowel outside of the body, will influence the surgical team's decisions.