Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a frequently encountered condition in the premature neonate, which can have devastating effects. The signs and symptoms of NEC are variable and can be confused with those of sepsis. An abdominal radiograph is often obtained for diagnosis, and findings that indicate NEC include pneumatosis and portal venous gas. The treatment of NEC includes gastrointestinal rest, gastric decompression, broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics, and systemic support. A finding of pneumoperitoneum signifies intestinal perforation, which requires surgical intervention. Long-term sequelae of NEC include short-gut syndrome, intestinal stricture, and neurodevelopmental delays. The presentation of intestinal stricture can be puzzling. It can appear at presentation as a bowel obstruction or, conversely, as increased stool output or diarrhea. The clinician should have a high level of suspicion for intestinal stricture in a patient with a history of NEC.
Drs Rich and Dolgin have disclosed no financial relationships relevant to this article. This commentary does not contain a discussion of an unapproved/investigative use of a commercial product/device.
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Barrie S. Rich, Stephen E. Dolgin; Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Pediatr Rev December 2017; 38 (12): 552–559. https://doi.org/10.1542/pir.2017-0002
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