Neutropenic enterocolitis: Current issues in diagnosis and management

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Neutropenic enterocolitis or typhlitis (from the Greek word typhlon, meaning cecum) is a clinical syndrome that occurs in the setting of disease or chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. The disease is characterized by an inflammatory process involving colon and/or small bowel, and it can result in ischemia, necrosis, bacteremia, hemorrhage, and perforation. The classic clinical features include fever and abdominal pain. The diagnosis is supported by the findings of bowel wall thickening on ultrasonography or CT imaging. The management of neutropenic enterocolitis is controversial. Neither prospective nor high-quality retrospective studies concerning medical or surgical therapies are available. Most authors will recommend initial conservative management with bowel rest, intravenous fluids, total parenteral nutrition, broad-spectrum antibiotics and normalization of neutrophil counts. Surgical intervention is recommended in the setting of obstruction, perforation, persistent gastrointestinal bleeding despite correction of thrombocytopenia and coagulopathy, and clinical deterioration.

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