Successful nonoperative management of typhlitis in pediatric oncology patients

Marc Schlatter, Kristen Snyder, David Freyer
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2002, 37 (8): 1151-5

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The optimal management for typhlitis in pediatric oncology patients has not always been clear from the medical literature. Trends have varied between operative and nonoperative approaches. The aim of this study was to review the successful nonoperative management of these patients at our institution over the last decade to further clarify management guidelines for this difficult problem.

METHODS: Medical records of pediatric hematology and oncology patients up to 21 years of age with typhlitis diagnosed at the DeVos Children's Hospital from 1990 to 2000 were reviewed.

RESULTS: Twelve patients were included. Ten patients (83%) with computed tomography (CT) scans suggestive of the diagnosis were treated successfully nonoperatively. Management usually included bowel rest, antibiotics, and supplemental parenteral nutrition. Two patients (17%) in whom CT scans were not obtained underwent surgery for presumed appendicitis and pneumoperitoneum, respectively. Typhlitis was found incidentally. In the latter patient, the pneumoperitoneum resulted from a perforated jejunum caused by graft-versus-host disease. This patient died of septic complications and was the only mortality in the series (8%).

CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric cancer patients with typhlitis can be treated carefully nonoperatively with bowel rest, antibiotics, and supplemental nutrition. Usual indications for surgery (ie, perforation, clinical deterioration) still should be used. The early use of CT scanning helps to facilitate the diagnosis and may provide the ability to differentiate typhlitis from other abdominal diseases for which surgery would be indicated.

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