Intestinal perforation in necrotizing enterocolitis: Does cardiac surgery make a difference?

Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2021 Nov;27(6):662-667. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2020.80930.


Background: The aim of this study is to evaluate the patients with intestinal perforation secondary to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) following cardiac surgery in the terms of risk factors and diagnosis/treatment process.

Methods: A series of cases operated for intestinal perforation secondary to NEC were retrospectively reviewed in two groups. Group I involved patients who had cardiac surgery for congenital heart disease previous to intestinal perforation secondary to NEC. Group II consisted patients who had intestinal perforation secondary to NEC without any previous cardiac surgery. Demographic characteristics, prenatal and postnatal features, and pre- and post-operative course of groups were statistically compared to define differences.

Results: Thirty-two patients underwent laparotomy secondary to intestinal perforation in this period. The gestational age and birth weight were smaller in Group II (p=0.001, p=0.001). Intrauterine growth retardation was more frequent in Group II (p=0.05). More Group I patients had hypotensive periods (p=0.018) before the diagnosis of NEC. Prostaglandin treatment and requirement of renal replacement therapy were more frequent in Group I (p=0.022, p=0.03). The mortality rate was higher in Group I (p=0.018). All patients in Group I were late stage NEC at the time of diagnosis.

Conclusion: NEC developing after cardiac surgery is different from NEC seen in the neonatal period in the terms of etiology, facilitating factors, and clinical course. Mortality rate is higher in NEC after cardiac surgery. The diagnosis of intestinal perforation might be difficult in NEC after cardiac surgery due to insignificant physical examination findings and characteristic radiological signs of NEC. The history of prostaglandin usage and requirement of renal replacement were thought as alarming signs in terms of possible intestinal complications after cardiac surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing* / complications
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Perforation* / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation* / surgery
  • Laparotomy
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies