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J Pediatr Surg. 2001 May;36(5):799-803.

The clinical significance of thrombocytopenia in neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Department of Paediatric Surgery, The Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, University College London, London, England, UK.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical significance of low platelet count in the surgical management of neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).


The clinical course of 58 consecutive neonates with advanced NEC (Bell's stages II or III) treated in the authors' hospital between 1995 and 1998 was reviewed. NEC in neonates who required operation was classified as isolated, multifocal, or pan-intestinal. Severe thrombocytopenia was defined as platelet count less than 100 x 10(9)/L. Rapid fall in platelet count was defined as fall greater than 150 x 10(9)/L within 24 hours to a level less than 100 x 10(9)/L.


Median birth weight was 1,564 g (range, 550 to 4,270) and gestational age was 31 weeks (range 23 to 41). Twenty-two neonates (38%) were below 1,000 g. Age at the onset of the disease was 13 days (range, 1 to 62). NEC was treated medically in 7 neonates (12%). Indications for operation included pneumoperitoneum in 23 neonates (45%), clinical deterioration in 19 (37%), and intestinal obstruction in 9 (18%). The nadir platelet count (lowest level during the course of disease) was lower in patients with stage III disease than in patients with stage II disease (P <.05). The greater the extent of the disease, the lower the platelet count (P =.012). The nadir platelet count was lower in infants who died than in survivors (P <.05). None of the patients with platelet count greater than 100 x 10(9)/L died. In predicting intestinal gangrene, severe thrombocytopenia has a sensitivity of 69%, specificity of 60%, and positive predictive value of 89%; rapid fall in platelet count has a sensitivity of 32%, specificity of 89%, and positive predictive value of 92%.


(1) A platelet count less than 100 x 10(9)/L or a rapid fall in platelet count represent poor prognostic factors. (2) Monitoring the platelet count during the course of NEC is useful; however, it cannot be used in isolation to predict the extent of the disease or survival rate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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