A surgeon's predicament: Clinical predictors of surgery and mortality in neutropenic enterocolitis

J Pediatr Surg. 2022 Mar;57(3):443-449. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2021.08.015. Epub 2021 Sep 4.


Background: Neutropenic enterocolitis is uncommon but potentially life-threatening, with the cornerstone of treatment being medical management (MM), and surgical intervention reserved for clinical deterioration or bowel perforation. We hypothesized that the Shock Index Pediatric Age-Adjusted (SIPA) is elevated in patients who are at greatest risk for surgical intervention and mortality. We also sought to identify computed tomography (CT) findings associated with surgical intervention and mortality.

Methods: A single-center cancer registry was reviewed for neutropenic enterocolitis patients from 2006 -2018. Survival models compared patients with normal versus elevated SIPA throughout their hospitalizations for the time to surgical management (SM), as well as in-hospital mortality.

Results: Seventy-four patients with neutropenic enterocolitis were identified; 7 underwent surgery. In-hospital mortality was 12% in MM and 29% in SM; mortality among patients with elevated SIPA was 4.7 times higher compared to those with normal SIPA (95% CI: 1.1, 19.83, p = 0.04). CT findings of bowel obstruction, pneumatosis, and a greater percentage of large bowel involvement were associated with surgical intervention (all ps < 0.05).

Conclusion: Select pre-operative CT findings were associated with need for operative management. Elevated SIPA was associated with increased mortality. Elevated SIPA in pediatric cancer patients with neutropenic enterocolitis may help to identify those with more severe disease and expedite beneficial interventions.

Keywords: Neutropenic enterocolitis; Shock Index Pediatric Age-Adjusted; Typhlitis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Enterocolitis, Neutropenic* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shock*
  • Surgeons*