BACKGROUND: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common surgical emergency in newborns and it is still a leading cause of death despite the improvements reached in the management of the critically ill neonate. The purpose of this study was to evaluate risk factors, surgical treatments and outcome of surgical NEC.
METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated a multicentric group of 184 patients with surgical NEC over a period of 5 years (2008-2012). Indications to operation were modified NEC Bell stages IIIA or IIIB. The main outcome was measured in terms of survival and postsurgical complications.
RESULTS: Data on 184 patients who had a surgical NEC were collected. The majority of patients (153) had a primary laparotomy (83%); 10 patients had peritoneal drainage insertion alone (5%) and 21 patients had peritoneal drainage followed by laparotomy (12%). Overall mortality was 28%. Patients with lower gestational age (P=0.001), lower birth weight (P=0.001), more extensive intestinal involvement (P=0.002) and cardiac diseases (P=0.012) had a significantly higher incidence of mortality. There was no statistically significant association between free abdominal air on the X-ray and mortality (P=0.407). Mortality in the drainage group was 60%, in the laparotomy group and drainage followed by laparotomy group was of 23-24% (P=0.043). There was a high incidence of stenosis (28%) in the drainage group (P=0.002). On multivariable regression, lower birth weight, feeding, bradycardia-desaturation and extent of bowel involvement were independent predictors of mortality.
CONCLUSIONS: Laparotomy was the most frequent method of treatment (83%). Primary laparotomy and drainage with laparotomy groups had similar mortalities (23-24%), while the drainage alone treatment cohort was associated with the highest mortality (60%) with statistical value (P=0.043). Consequently laparotomy is highly protective in terms of survival rate. Stenosis seemed to be statistically associated with drainage. These findings could discourage the use of peritoneal drainage versus a primary laparotomy whenever the clinical conditions of patients allow this procedure.
- Journal Article