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J Pediatr Surg. 1989 Oct;24(10):1007-8.

Idiopathic intestinal perforations in the newborn: an increasingly common entity.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Surgery, Montefiore Medical Center, New York, NY.


Between 1982 and 1987 seven neonates ranging in age from 24 hours to 1 week were treated for idiopathic intestinal perforations at the Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Four of the infants were born prematurely; three were full term. Five were being treated in an intensive care nursery when the perforation was diagnosed. All infants whose perforations were due to necrotizing enterocolitis, appendicitis, Hirschsprung's disease, meconium ileus, intestinal atresias, or drug therapy are excluded from the series. None of the infants had associated anomalies. The sites of the perforations were as follows: two in the jejunum, two in the ileum, one in the cecum, and two in the transverse colon. Six of the perforations were on the antimesenteric aspect of the bowel; one was on the mesenteric aspect. The sizes of the perforations ranged from pinhole to 1 cm in diameter. All the infants did well. Pathologic examination of the resected specimens failed to reveal an etiology for the perforations. There were no cases of duplication or muscular hypoplasia. We believe the etiology of this condition may be ischemic necrosis, secondary to a localized vascular accident in the wall of the affected viscus, but we do not have a good explanation for the upsurge in cases we are seeing.

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