Management of intestinal atresia in patients with gastroschisis

J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Oct;36(10):1542-5. doi: 10.1053/jpsu.2001.27040.


Background/purpose: Intestinal atresia occurs in approximately 10% to 20% of children with gastroschisis and may be missed at the initial closure if a thick peel obscures the bowel. Some investigators have identified intestinal atresia as a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality. The authors reviewed their experience with gastroschisis and intestinal atresia in an attempt to answer the following questions. What is the incidence of this association? How often is the intestinal atresia unrecognized as a result of the peel? What is the optimal management for infants with atresia and gastroschisis, and does the atresia affect morbidity or mortality?

Methods: The hospital charts and medical records of all patients with gastroschisis treated at our institution from 1969 to present were reviewed thoroughly. Parameters analyzed included gestational age (GA), birth weight (BW), antenatal diagnosis, mode of delivery, type of closure, era of repair, presence of other major anomalies, and development of necrotizing enterocolitis. Morbidity and mortality rates were examined. Characteristics of patients with and without atresia were compared. Chi-squared was used for crosstabular analysis. Sample parameters were compared with Student's t test. P values of less than.05 were considered significant.

Results: A total of 199 babies had gastroschisis and 25 (12.6%) had intestinal atresia. Intestinal atresia was initially unrecognized in 3 patients. Most patients (80%) underwent primary closure of the abdominal wall. Initial stoma formation and delayed anastomosis was performed in 12 (48%) patients, none of whom required prosthetic material for abdominal wall closure. Initial stomas were avoided in 5 patients who required SILASTIC (Dow Corning, Midland, MI) silos. Skin closure alone was used in 2 babies. The level of the atresia was most commonly jejunoileal (20 of 25, 80%). Mean hospital stay was increased in babies with intestinal atresia, 36.2 versus 63.1 days (P <.001).

Conclusions: Although patients with intestinal atresia did have feeding delays, an increased incidence of adhesive intestinal obstruction, and prolonged hospitalization, neither chi(2) nor logistic regression analysis showed any correlation with mortality. Intestinal repair at the first operation is sometimes possible and depends on the severity of the peel. Delayed repair of the atresia after a period of bowel decompression and parenteral nutrition is preferred, but in certain situations (colonic atresia, necrotic intestine, complicated atresia) may not be possible. The combination of stomas and prosthetic material can be avoided in almost all patients. A management algorithm for patients with atresia and gastroschisis is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gastroschisis / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / surgery*
  • Intestinal Atresia / complications*
  • Intestinal Atresia / surgery*
  • Male