Neonatal surgical outcomes: a prospective observational study at a Tertiary Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa

Pediatr Surg Int. 2021 Aug;37(8):1061-1068. doi: 10.1007/s00383-021-04881-7. Epub 2021 Mar 19.


Purpose: The neonatal period is the most vulnerable period for a child. There is a paucity of data on the burden of neonatal surgical disease in our setting. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency with which index neonatal surgical conditions are seen within our setting and to document the 30-day outcome of these patients.

Methods: This was a single-centre prospective observational study in which all neonates with paediatric surgical pathology referred to the paediatric surgical unit with a corrected gestational age of 28 days were included.

Results: Necrotising enterocolitis was the most frequent reason for referral to the paediatric surgical unit (n = 68, 34.34%). Gastroschisis was the most frequent congenital anomaly referred (n = 20, 10.10%). The overall morbidity was 57.58%. Surgical complications contributed to 18.51% of morbidities. The development of gram negative nosocomial sepsis was the most frequent cause of morbidity (n = 98, 50.78%). Mortality at 30 days was 21.74% (n = 40). Sepsis contributed to mortality in 35 patients (87.5%), 16 of which had gram negative sepsis.

Conclusion: Gram-negative sepsis was a major contributing factor in the development of morbidity and mortality in our cohort. Prevention and improvement in infection control are imperative if we are to improve outcomes in our surgical neonates.

Keywords: Neonatal outcomes; Neonatal surgery; South Africa; Surgical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / mortality*
  • Female
  • Gastroschisis / mortality*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Neonatal Sepsis / mortality*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data