Routine contrast enemas for diagnosing and managing strictures following nonoperative treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis

Michael Born, Leif O. Holgersen, Farrokh Shahrivar, Edward Stanley-Brown, Carol Hilfer

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23 Scopus citations


A study to determine the value of contrast enemas in diagnosing and managing intestinal strictures following nonoperative treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis was performed from 1978 through 1983. From 1974 through 1977, 17 patients survived nonoperative treatment of NEC and three developed symptomatic strictures, an incidence of 18% (3/17). Since then a total of 31 infants were treated for NEC; three patients survived operation for perforation and there were seven deaths, leaving 21 in the study group. Sixteen patients had contrast enemas three to six weeks after resolution of NEC, which revealed strictures in five patients. Four of the five patients with strictures demonstrated on contrast enema were without obstructive symptoms. Three of the four remained asymptomatic without treatment, and one eventually required surgery for intestinal obstruction. The fifth patient developed intestinal obstruction while still in the nursery and a contrast study demonstrated an ileal stricture. A sixth patient had a normal contrast study and developed intestinal obstruction from an ileal stricture. The incidence of strictures was 38% (6/16). In five patients, appointments for contrast studies were not kept, although clinical follow-up was complete in all. The incidence of symptomatic strictures for the contrast study period was therefore 14% (3/21). Although some authors have recommended routine contrast enemas in patients surviving nonoperative treatment of NEC, contrast enemas had no advantage over clinical follow-up in the management of patients in this study. We have discontinued the use of routine contrast enemas in favor of close follow-up and careful instruction to parents as to the early signs of intestinal obstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-463
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1985


  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • intestinal stricture


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