INTRODUCTION: Survivors of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) often develop a post-NEC intestinal stricture, causing severe and prolonged morbidity.
OBJECTIVES: We first aimed to determine the incidence of post-NEC strictures. Second, we aimed to determine risk factors associated with intestinal post-NEC strictures.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 441 patients diagnosed with NEC Bell's stage ≥2 were retrospectively included in three academic pediatric surgical centers between January 2005 and January 2013. Clinical data were related to the occurrence of intestinal post-NEC strictures. Post-NEC strictures were defined as clinically relevant strictures with a radiological and/or surgical confirmation of this post-NEC stricture.
RESULTS: The median gestational age of the 337 survivors of the acute phase of NEC was 29weeks (range 24-41) and median birth weight was 1130g (range 410-4130). Of the survivors, 37 (17%) medically treated NEC patients developed a post-NEC strictures versus 27 surgically treated NEC patients (24%; p=0.001). Highest C-reactive protein (CRP) level measured during the NEC episode was associated with the development of post-NEC strictures (OR 1.20, 95% confidence interval 1.11-1.32; p=0.03). No post-NEC strictures were detected in patients with CRP levels <46mg/L.
CONCLUSION: This multicenter retrospective cohort study demonstrates an overall incidence of clinical relevant post-NEC strictures of 19%, with a higher rate (24%) in NEC cases treated surgically. Increased CRP levels during the NEC episode were associated with the development of post-NEC strictures.