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Umbilical Granuloma

What is an umbilical granuloma?

An umbilical granuloma is a piece of tissue that remains on your baby's belly button after the umbilical cord falls off. Rather than healing up and becoming covered with skin, a bright red stalk of tissue remains on the belly button. It has a grainy surface and produces sticky mucus. Without treatment, it could ooze and become an irritation for several months.

How often does it occur?

Umbilical granulomas are estimated to occur in 1 in 500 births.

What is the cause?

The reasons why some children develop an umbilical granuloma are not well understood. The formation of a granuloma has to do with how the tissue heals as the umbilical cord separates from the baby. It does not seem to be due to improper care of the remainder of the umbilical cord after the baby is born.

In rare cases, a piece of tissue that looks like an umbilical granuloma is actually connected to the bladder or bowel. Your doctor can tell the difference between this problem and an umbilical granuloma.

How is it treated?

There are several ways to remove a granuloma:

  • A chemical (silver nitrate) that chemically burns the tissue can be put on the granuloma. Because the granuloma has no nerves in it, it does not hurt.
  • Liquid nitrogen (a special, very cold liquid) can be used to freeze the granuloma.
  • The granuloma can be tied tight at the base with surgical thread. This will cause the granuloma tissue to die and eventually fall off.

Can I prevent an umbilical granuloma?

There is no known way you can prevent the development of a granuloma. Although cleaning the umbilical cord will not prevent a granuloma, it is best to keep the area clean by wiping around the cord with clean water or alcohol several times every day until the cord falls off.

When should I call my child's health care provider?

Call during office hours if:

  • You notice redness on the abdomen (belly).
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-10-12
Last reviewed: 2006-08-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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