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Care of the umbilicus and management of umbilical disorders

Debra L Palazzi, MD, MEd
Mary L Brandt, MD
Section Editors
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Richard Martin, MD
Deputy Editor
Melanie S Kim, MD


At birth, the umbilical cord, which provided vascular flow between the fetus and placenta, is clamped and cut. Within the first week of life, the remnant umbilical cord stump separates from the neonate, creating the umbilicus (commonly referred to as the navel).

Infection, hernia, granulomas, and congenital anomalies can occur in the umbilicus and are more commonly seen in infancy.

The care of the umbilical cord and clinical problems associated with the umbilicus will be reviewed here.


Umbilical cord — The umbilical cord contains two arteries and one vein, which are surrounded and supported by gelatinous tissue called Wharton's jelly.

Thickness — At birth, the average diameter and circumference of the umbilical cord in a normal term infant is 1.5 and 3.6 cm, respectively [1,2]. Both thick and thin cords are associated with increased risk of significant pathology. (See 'Newborn examination' below.)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Sep 26, 2016.
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