Primary peritoneal drainage in necrotising enterocolitis: an 18-year experience
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE This report reviews our experience using peritoneal drainage (PD) as initial therapy for intestinal perforation in premature infants with and without necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). METHODS A chart review was conducted of 18 consecutive premature infants who underwent PD for intestinal perforation from 1995 to 1998. Infants were divided into two groups. Group 1 consisted of eight infants who had intestinal perforation without evidence of NEC. Group 2 consisted of 10 infants who had perforation associated with evidence of NEC. A cohort of 10 infants with intestinal perforation treated with primary laparotomy between 1990 and 1995 was identified by chart review for historical control. RESULTS All infants improved immediately after PD. In group 1, all survived. Seven (88%) recovered systemically after PD. Of these, five (63%) never required laparotomy. Two (25%) required delayed laparotomy. One infant (12%) failed to continue to improve 48 hours after PD and underwent urgent laparotomy and recovered. In group 2, eight (80%) infants survived. Six (60%) recovered from NEC after PD, but five required delayed laparotomy for obstruction or persistent drainage. Four infants (40%) failed to progress from their initial improvement after PD. Three underwent laparotomy; two recovered and one had total intestinal necrosis and died. The fourth infant died without exploration and total intestinal necrosis was discovered during autopsy. Thus, seven of eight survivors (88%) in group 2 required laparotomy at some point in their course. CONCLUSIONS In premature infants with intestinal perforation, PD allows acute improvement and usually systemic recovery. In infants without evidence of NEC, PD may afford definitive treatment. In contrast, infants with evidence of NEC will likely require laparotomy, but initial PD may allow systemic stabilization and recovery of much of the involved intestine before laparotomy.