Surgical Experience with Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NNE)

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Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis, a highly lethal disorder of premature infants, is a common occurrence in newborn care units. This report details operative experience with 33 infants over the past seven years. During this time many more infants with NNE have recovered with supportive therapy. All patients are treated on a standard protocol of therapy and monitoring designed to select those with signs of continuing clinical deterioration. Therefore, those coming to operation had additional complications, such as perforation, intestinal gangrene or stenosis. This protocol is described. The 33 infants, averaging less than 4 lbs., developed NNE within five days of birth. Perforation and signs of continued clinical deterioration were the indications for operation; severe sepsis and clotting abnormalities were the rule. The overall mortality was 40% but included six infants with total bowel necrosis who had laparotomy alone. Five patients had intestinal or colon it resection with primary anastomosis, with two leaks leading to death. Twenty-one patients had staged resection with delayed anastomosis and only four deaths. Thus 27 determinative cases had a 26% mortality, and the recent group with staged resection had a 19% mortality. The essentials of pre-, intra- and postoperative management are detailed, as well as pathology and bacteriologic data. Most infants had temporary malabsorption requiring parenteral nutrition and special diets. Long-term results are gratifying.

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