COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Periumbilical necrotizing fasciitis in the newborn

D M Weber, N V Freeman, K M Elhag
European Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2001, 11 (2): 86-91
11371042
Periumbilical necrotizing fasciitis (PNF) in the newborn is an invasive bacterial infection of the abdominal wall with a fulminant course and a high mortality rate. Little is known about the etiology, risk factors and microbiology of the disease. 18 patients with periumbilical necrotizing fasciitis were included in this retrospective study and were compared with 50 patients with omphalitis over a 6-year period, between 1992 and 1998. This represents the largest reported study. The children with periumbilical necrotizing fasciitis presented at a younger age compared to the omphalitis group (8.4 days vs. 9.1 days) and had a shorter clinical history (1.9 days vs. 2.8 days), suggesting that PNF is not a mere sequela of omphalitis but has distinctive underlying causes. None of our patients in the omphalitis group had a progression of the disease towards necrotizing fasciitis. The microbial spectrum of cultures obtained in patients with PNF consisted of mixed anaerobes and aerobes in 55%, and mixed aerobes in 36% of cases. Early aggressive therapy, including elective endotracheal intubation, immediate surgical debridement of the abdominal wall, antibiotics and supportive measurements resulted in a survival rate of 56%. Far from being satisfactory, this is nevertheless higher than the 12.5% to 45% survival rate quoted in previous publications.

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