Controversies in the management of necrotizing enterocolitis

E. P. Nadler, J. S. Upperman, H. R. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most frequent and lethal disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract of the premature infant. Controversy persists as to the most appropriate management once the diagnosis is confirmed. Methods: Review of the pertinent medical literature. Results: The incidence of NEC is increasing, but the survival rate is not. Initial management of NEC consists of bowel rest, orogastric decompression, intravenous hydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics; surgical intervention is typically reserved for infants with advanced disease or evidence of intestinal perforation. There is no consensus in the literature regarding the optimal treatment strategy for patients who require surgical intervention. There exists a lack of randomized trials comparing definitive intestinal resection with or without primary anastomosis, intestinal diversion with limited resection, or peritoneal drainage without resection. Conclusion: An individualized approach must be taken to achieve optimum survival for patients with NEC. Isolated perforation, in our opinion, is best managed with resection and enterostomy, whereas pan-intestinal involvement is best managed with proximal diversion alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical infections
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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