Acute kidney injury in necrotizing enterocolitis predicts mortality

Pediatr Nephrol. 2018 Mar;33(3):503-510. doi: 10.1007/s00467-017-3809-y. Epub 2017 Oct 5.


Background: Morbidity and mortality with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) remains a significant challenge. Acute kidney injury (AKI) has been shown to worsen survival in critically ill neonates. To our knowledge, this study is the first to evaluate the prevalence of AKI and its impact on outcomes in neonatal NEC.

Methods: We carried out a single-center retrospective chart review of all neonates treated for NEC between 2003 and 2015 (N = 181). AKI is defined as a rise in serum creatinine (SCr) from a previous trough according to neonatal modified KDIGO criteria (stage 1 = SCr rise 0.3 mg/dL or SCr 150 < 200%, stage 2 = SCr rise 200 < 300%, stage 3 = SCr rise ≥300%, SCr 2.5 mg/dL or dialysis). Primary outcome was in-hospital mortality and secondary outcomes were hospital length of stay (LOS) and need for and type of surgery.

Results: Acute kidney injury occurred in 98 neonates (54%), with 39 stage 1 (22%), 31 stage 2 (18%), and 28 stage 3 (16%), including 5 requiring dialysis. Non-AKI and AKI groups were not statistically different in age, weight, Bell's NEC criteria, and medication exposure (vasopressors, vancomycin, gentamicin, or diuretic). Neonates with AKI had higher mortality (44% vs 25.6%, p = 0.008) and a higher chance of death (HR 2.4, CI 1.2-4.8, p = 0.009), but the effect on LOS on survivors did not reach statistical significance (79 days, interquartile range [IQR] 30-104 vs 54 days, IQR 30-92, p = 0.09). Overall, 48 (27.9%) patients required surgical intervention.

Conclusions: This study shows that AKI not only occurs in over half of patients with NEC, but that it is also associated with more than a two-fold higher mortality, highlighting the importance of early recognition and potentially early intervention for AKI.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Failure to thrive; Infant mortality; Necrotizing enterocolitis; Neonatal surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / complications
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / mortality
  • Databases, Factual
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / complications*
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / mortality
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors