Neutropenic enterocolitis in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Y Jain, L S Arya, R Kataria
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 2000, 17 (1): 99-103
Neutropenic enterocolitis is an acute, life-threatening inflammation of the small and large bowel, often seen in children with malignancies during periods of prolonged or severe neutropenia. During the period 1990-1995, 180 children were treated at the authors' center for acute lymphoblastic leukemia using a standard chemotherapy protocol. Among them, 11 children (6.1%) aged 4 to 12 years, were diagnosed clinically to have neutropenic enterocolitis. Eight had severe neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count < 10(8)/L and 5 had prolonged neutropenia (> 7 days duration). The symptoms included diffuse abdominal pain (10 children), oral mucositis (7), hematochezia (7), diarrhea (6), hematemesis (5), and right lower quadrant tenderness (4). Three children had radiological evidence of free intraperitoneal gas and an additional 3 children were found on surgical exploration to have cecal perforation. Laparotomy was performed on 8 children (73%), 4 of whom survived. Among the 3 children managed conservatively, 1 died awaiting surgical exploration, while the other 2 did well. The overall survival was 55%. The authors recommend an approach to management that respects the heterogeneity of the disease.

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