Microvillous Atrophy (MVA)

This is a congenital disorder of the intestinal epithelial cells presenting as an intractable form of neonatal diarrhea. It is particularly life threatening due to fluid losses and electrolyte imbalances. The disorder is characterized by chronic, severe, watery diarrhea and insufficient absorption (malabsorption) of the nutrients needed due to incomplete development and/or degeneration (atrophy) of the surface cells of the wall of the small intestine.


Infant’s with microvillous atrophy may have chronic diarrhea and malabsorption that may result in:

  • Severe dehydration.

  • Deficiency of necessary nutrients (malnutrition).

  • Failure to grow and gain weight.

  • Disturbance of the body’s balance of acids and bases, which is essential in regulating the body’s composition of bodily fluids (acidosis).


Diagnosis is easily performed on basis of microscopic exam of duodenal or jejunal biopsy specimens of the intestine.


Treatment includes intravenous (IV) hydration and total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Continuous TPN is often required because of the copious amounts of watery stools and extreme dehydration. MVA is an indication for intestinal transplant.