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Systematic review of case reports concerning adults suffering from neutropenic enterocolitis.

INTRODUCTION: Neutropenic enterocolitis (NEC) is a well recognised clinical-pathological and life-threatening complication in patients suffering from several conditions, including solid and haematological malignancies or aplastic anaemia.

OBJECTIVE: This review was aimed at evaluating overall NEC mortality rate, describing clinical diagnostic findings and therapeutical interventions reported in the literature and generating a hypothesis regarding factors influencing mortality and surgical intervention.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An advanced search was made in Medline, Embase, Lilacs and Google. Additional strategies included manual search of specific journals. Reports were considered if they described case definition, inclusion and exclusion criteria.

RESULTS: 275 cases were selected; 109 were from individual data and 40 from grouped data. Comparing data between case reports and case series revealed no significant differences related to mortality, surgical intervention, sex or age. Higher mortality (chi2 = 7.51 p = 0.006) was found in women (50%) compared to men (28%). No significant difference was found between antibiotic combinations and mortality (chi(2) = 12.85 df 13 p = 0.45). Mortality (chi2 = 3.89 df 1, p = 0.049), surgical intervention (chi2 = 7.64 df 1, p = 0.006) and duration of diarrhoea (chi2 = 4.71 df 1, p = 0.043) were significantly different in 26.4% of individuals using antifungal agents; death occurred in 81% of patients! who did not receive such medication compared to 19% individuals reported as being treated with antifungal agents.

CONCLUSION: The current evidence suggests that antifungal agents should be used early in patients suffering from NEC. However, this hypothesis must be evaluated in multi-centric, randomised controlled trials.

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