Background: Existing data on pediatric intestinal length (IL) are limited because most studies report postmortem values. Using prospective data, appropriate norms for IL were developed.
Method: The IL measurements, using a silk suture on the antimesenteric border, were prospectively made on patients between 24 weeks of gestational age and 5 years of age undergoing laparotomy. Patients with gastrointestinal malformations or those above or below 2 SDs for growth parameters were excluded. A curve fitting process was applied to determine the best model for IL (small bowel and colon separately) from among postconception age, weight, and height at surgery.
Results: One hundred eight patients participated in this study. Highly predictive (R(2) > 0.8) models for IL were determined for all predictor variables (postconception age, weight, and height) examined suggesting that all of these variables are excellent predictors determinants of IL. Although all models had statistically similar properties, the model using height had the best performance across the full range of the variable.
Conclusion: Although age, weight, nor height was definitely superior for the prediction of IL, we propose that until external validations of our models occur, height at surgery be used for the prediction of expected small intestinal and colon length in infants.