Surgery-associated complications in necrotizing enterocolitis: A multiinstitutional study

J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Nov;36(11):1722-4. doi: 10.1053/jpsu.2001.27975.


Purpose: This study was designed to evaluate the wound and stomal complication rate associated with surgical intervention in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Methods: Comprehensive demographic and perioperative data were collected prospectively from 4 separate university hospitals on 51 infants with surgically treated NEC. The postoperative complication rate included wound (infection, dehiscence) and stomal (prolapse, retraction, necrosis, stricture) problems. For analysis, patients were grouped based on gestational age less than 28 weeks (group I, n = 30) and >/=28 weeks (group II, n = 21). Z-score analysis was used for intergroup evaluation.

Results: Significantly more infants in group I (21 of 30 [70%] versus group II, 6 of 21 [29%]; P <.001) were treated initially with Penrose drainage alone, but most eventually underwent laparotomy (group I, 28 of 30 [93%] versus group II, 19 of 21 [91%]; P value, not significant). The combined stomal/wound complication rate was significantly higher in group I (14 of 30 [47%]) versus group II (6 of 21 [29%]; P <.025). Of 51 patients, one operation was required in 23 (45%), 2 in 18 (35%), 3 in 8 (16%), and 4 in 2 (4%).

Conclusions: Although the stomal/wound complication rate was significantly higher in group I, both groups had very substantial complication rates, emphasizing the vulnerability of this infant population. Parents, especially of very premature babies, should be advised that multiple operations are likely and that complications should be expected.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / surgery*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Postoperative Complications / classification
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Prolapse
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / etiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology