The changing face of surgical indications for necrotizing enterocolitis
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PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to compare the proportion of operations for acute necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and post NEC strictures. METHODS: The authors reviewed 195 charts of children referred to our institution for NEC or post-NEC strictures between 1990 and 1999. Seventy-one children were classified as Bell stage I and were excluded. The remaining 124 patients were classified as either Bell stage II or III and formed the basis of our study. These patients were subdivided into 2 groups: (1) group I (n = 69) comprised patients treated from 1990 until 1994 and (2) group II (n = 55) from 1995 until 1999. Statistical analysis consisted of X(2) and Student's t tests. Significance occurred when P less-than-or-equal 0.05. RESULTS: Both groups were similar with regard to sex, obstetrical history, indomethacin use, umbilical artery catheter use, and enteral feeding. The total operative rate for all patients with either acute NEC or post NEC strictures increased over time from 46% (32 of 69) in group I to 69% (38 of 55) in group II (P <.01). Specifically, post-NEC stricture was the initial operation in 16% (5 of 32) of group I patients versus 37% (14 of 38) of group II patients (P <.05). Subdividing each group by method of treatment of their NEC showed that medically treated patients had an increased incidence of stricture over time (group I, 15% v. group II, 48%; P <.01). Surgically treated children maintained a similar rate of stricture (group I, 36% v. group II, 33%). The mortality rate was comparable in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: At our institution, the total operative rate for necrotizing enterocolitis has increased over the last 10 years. This is because of 2 factors: (1) an increase in the percentage of stage III patients and (2) an increase in referrals for post--necrotizing enterocolitis strictures. No specific criteria could be identified to predict which patients were at risk for post--necrotizing enterocolitis strictures after medical treatment.
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