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Minerva Pediatrica 2009 August;61(4):355-60


language: English

Idiopathic spontaneous intestinal perforation: a distinct pathological entity in the preterm infant

Messina M. 1, Molinaro F. 1, Ferrara F. 1, Messina G. 2, Di Maggio G. 1

1 Department of Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Reproductive Medicine, Pediatric Surgery Section, University of Siena, Siena, Italy 2 Department of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Siena, Siena, Italy


Aim. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common cause of intestinal perforation in newborn children. A novel condition of idiopathic spontaneous intestinal perforation (SIPI) was recently described, which does not show clinical and diagnostic features of NEC. The aim of the present study was to define clinical peculiarities and potential risk factors in newborns by comparing SIPI and NEC patients.
Methods. In the last six years, 85 preterm infants have necessitated surgical counseling for acute abdominal conditions. Among them, 13 underwent emergency surgery, 6 for SIPI and 7 for NEC respectively. Patients were then subdivided into three groups: group 0: 72 infants who did not need surgery; group I: 6 patients with SIPI; group II: 7 patients with NEC. Some variables were retrospectively analyzed and were compared by means of c2 test with a significant value of P<0.05.
Results. No association emerged between patient’s sex gender (P=0.691), membrane ruptures (P=0.400) and maternal infection (P=0.415). A correlation was observed between pneumoperitoneum and SIPI/NEC (P=0.000). The study on group I and II showed a lower gestational age (27.3 as compared to 30.28 weeks) and a higher number of membrane ruptures (4/6 as compared to 3/7) and of maternal infections (4/6 as compared to 3/7).
Conclusion. This study showed that a determining factor for the etiopathogenesis of SIPI may be neonatal stress consequent to preterm birth. Infants under 28 weeks of gestational age, with low birth weight, show a particular predisposition to SIPI, with a risk accounting to 96% of the present case series.

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