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Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis With Intestinal Perforation in Extremely Premature Infants Receiving Early Indomethacin Treatment for Patent Ductus Arteriosus


Survival of extremely premature infants (<27 weeks' gestational age) has improved over the past two decades. Indomethacin prophylaxis was used in these infants, who have the highest mortality and morbidity rates, to reduce the incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Medical records of 65 extremely premature infants born at our institution between 1995 and 2001 were reviewed retrospectively to determine whether treatment of PDA with indomethacin in the first 48 hours of life reduces the need for PDA ligation or increases neonatal morbidity, when compared to treatment begun later. Thirty infants in the early treatment group (ETG) were treated during the first 48 hours after birth, and 32 infants in the standard treatment group (STG) were managed expectantly for PDA. Three infants died in the first hours of life and were eliminated from further analysis. ETG infants were 24.9±1.1 (mean±SD) weeks' gestation with a birth weight of 678±143 g. STG infants were 25.3±1.1 weeks (NS) and 730±125 g (NS). Hemodynamically significant PDA was diagnosed or confirmed by echocardiography in 19 ETG patients and 17 STG patients. Of the patients with hemodynamically significant PDA, 1 (5%) ETG patient and 6 (35%) STG patients underwent surgical ligation (p=0.033). Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) with intestinal perforation was the most serious morbidity and occurred in 20% of infants in the ETG, but in no STG infant (p=0.011). Four of the six infants in the ETG with NEC and intestinal perforation died. The overall mortality rate for all infants studied was 28%. We conclude that in extremely premature infants, use of indomethacin during the first 48 hours of life was associated with a reduced need for PDA ligation, but an increased risk of NEC with intestinal perforation.

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Fujii, A., Brown, E., Mirochnick, M. et al. Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis With Intestinal Perforation in Extremely Premature Infants Receiving Early Indomethacin Treatment for Patent Ductus Arteriosus. J Perinatol 22, 535–540 (2002).

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