JOURNAL ARTICLE
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[Clinical and microbiological characteristics of neutropenic enterocolitis in adults with blood cancer in the National Cancer Institute of Bogota D.C. (Colombia)].

OBJECTIVES: This study describes the clinical, epidemiological and microbiological characteristics of adult patients with blood cancer and neutropenic enterocolitis treated in the Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia (National Cancer Institute) in Bogota, Colombia.

METHODS: The clinical histories of 692 adult patients hospitalized in the Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia between 1997 and 2001 with a diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma were reviewed. Thirty-five of these cases met the criteria for probable or confirmed neutropenic enterocolitis.

RESULTS: Twenty-two cases were confirmed and the remaining 13 were probable neutropenic enterocolitis. All patients were undergoing chemotherapy and all presented watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. In addition, 17% had melena and 25% severe vomiting. Eight of 26 stool cultures (30%) and 17 of 32 (58%) blood cultures were positive for potentially pathogenic microorganisms, particularly gram-negative bacilli. Three patients with probable neutropenic enterocolitis and ten confirmed cases died (37%); mortality was higher among patients who were managed surgically.

CONCLUSION: Neutropenic colitis presents as a multifactorial syndrome in patients with blood cancer undergoing cytotoxic therapy with agents such as cytosine arabinoside, etoposide, vincristine, cyclophosphamide and corticoids. This highly lethal complication is partly due to infections caused by gram-negative bacilli.

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