In neonates requiring operation for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), the complications due to enterostomy (ES) and the need for another operation to restore continuity have prompted several surgeons to employ primary anastomosis (PA) after resection as the operative strategy of choice. Our objective was to compare primary anastomosis to stoma formation in this population using systematic review and meta-analysis. Publications describing both interventions were identified by searching multiple databases. Appropriate studies that reported outcomes after PA and ES for NEC were included for analysis that was performed using the MedCalc3000 software. Results are reported as odds ratios (OR, 95% CI). No randomized trials were identified. Twelve studies were included for the final analysis. Neonates who underwent PA were associated with significantly less risk of mortality when compared to those who underwent ES (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.17-0.68, p 0.002), possibly due to differences in severity of NEC. Although the types of complications in these groups were different, there was no significant difference in risk of complication (OR 0.86, 0.55-1.33, p 0.50). In neonates undergoing an operation for severe NEC, there is no significant difference in the risk of complications between primary anastomosis and enterostomy. A definitive suggestion cannot be made regarding the choice of one operative strategy over another.
Keywords: Necrotizing enterocolitis; Neonate; Ostomy; Preterm; Primary anastomosis.