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BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Despite improvements in neonatal care the outcomes of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) remain unchanged over previous decades. The study aims to explore whether different indications for surgical intervention in NEC are associated with timing of surgery and outcomes. METHODS: Population-based, prospective, observational study of all 27 paediatric surgical centres in the United Kingdom and Ireland identified using the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons Congenital Anomalies Surveillance System from 1st February 2013 to 28th February 2014. Infants were included if they had NEC and underwent first surgical intervention within 7 days of diagnosis. Primary outcomes were death, parenteral nutrition requirement or a composite outcome of death or PN requirement at 28 days post surgery. RESULTS: There were 133 infants meeting inclusion criteria. Indications for surgery were bowel perforation (n = 67), suspected necrotic bowel without bowel perforation and not deemed to have failed medical management (n = 20), those who had failed medical management (n = 42) and a palpable mass without any other indication (n = 4). Failed medical treatment as an indication for surgery was associated with an increased time to surgery of 30.28 (95% CI 13.46-47.10) hours from those whose indication was perforation and was also the strongest predictor of PN requirement or death at 28 days post-surgery (OR 4.54 [1.59-13.0]). CONCLUSIONS: Failed medical treatment as an indication for surgery for NEC is associated with poor outcome. Earlier intervention in these infants represents a potential opportunity to improve outcomes in this population.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date



Necrotizing enterocolitis, Neonatology, Surgical decision making