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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2003 Aug;16(4):349-55.

Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis: an overview.

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University of Athens, Second Department of Pediatrics, P. & A. Kyriakou Children's Hospital, Greece.



Necrotizing enterocolitis represents a disease entity that remains quite challenging for neonatologists all around the world, in that its aetiology has yet to be revealed, but it is the cause of death for many premature infants each year, affecting up to 28% of very low birthweight infants. This is an attempt to improve the management of affected babies and stimulate more research concerning new diagnostic tools.


Current trends in the field of (early) diagnosis, such as: (1) imaging techniques, e.g. contrast radiography, portal vein ultrasonography, magnetic resonance, radionuclide scanning; (2) gastrointestinal tonometry; (3) the detection of biochemical markers, cytokines, growth factors; and (4) the determination of the mean peak hydrogen: carbon dioxide ratio excreted in breath, are only some of those mentioned. Various novel preventive techniques are also presented, among which platelet-activating factor acetyl hydrolase activity enhancement, platelet-activating factor receptor antagonists and probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, seem quite promising. Regarding treatment, the use of oxygenated perfluorocarbon has added to the limited alternatives available. These data along with other recent discoveries concerning the risk factors and pathogenesis of this disease create a full picture of the current opinion on this topic.


Keeping in mind that the key to confronting such a devastating disorder as necrotizing enterocolitis is early diagnosis and prevention, both clinically applicable and experimental advances are presented with the hope of improving the survival rates of patients affected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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