Necrotizing fasciitis. A serious sequela of omphalitis in the newborn

Ann Surg. 1984 Jan;199(1):101-3. doi: 10.1097/00000658-198401000-00017.


We reviewed all cases of omphalitis seen at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles from 1961 to 1981. One hundred and forty patients were seen and, of these, eight had necrotizing fasciitis. All patients with necrotizing fasciitis acquired omphalitis at home, making the incidence of necrotizing fasciitis over 10% in patients with community acquired omphalitis. Most of the infants appeared relatively well on admission with no fever but had a marked leukocytosis. The disease rapidly spread to involve most of the abdominal wall over a period of several hours to days. Seven of the eight patients died (87.5%). Five patients were operated upon but despite extensive resection of involved tissue, four died within 24 hours of surgery. A polymicrobial flora of both gram positive and gram negative bacteria was recovered in all patients cultured. The high incidence of necrotizing fasciitis following omphalitis in the newborn with its attendant morbidity and mortality mandates close observation of these infants with early surgical intervention if there is any question of the diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Fasciitis / etiology*
  • Fasciitis / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Umbilicus* / microbiology