Current concepts in the surgical approach to necrotizing enterocolitis

Mehul V. Raval, R. Lawrence Moss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common surgical emergency occurring in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients. Among patients with NEC, those that require surgery experience the poorest outcomes and highest mortality. Surgical intervention, while attempting to address the intestinal injury and ongoing mulitfactorial physiologic insults in NEC is associated with its own stresses that may compound the ongoing physiologic derangement. Surgery is thus reserved for those patients with clear indication for intervention such as pneumoperitoneum, confirmed stool or pus in the peritoneal cavity, or worsening clinical status. The purpose of this review is to briefly describe the physiologic stress induced by surgical intervention in the preterm, low birth weight patient with NEC and to provide a contemporary overview of available surgical management options for NEC. The optimal surgical plan employed is strongly influenced by clinical judgment and theoretical benefits in terms of minimizing physiologic stressors while providing temporary and/or definitive treatment in a timely fashion. While the choice of operation has not been shown to have a significant effect on any clinically important outcomes, ongoing investigations continue to study both short and long-term outcomes in patients with NEC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Neonatal intensive care unit
  • Neonatal surgery
  • Prematurity
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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