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Neutropenic enterocolitis. Clinical diagnosis and treatment

D S Wade, H R Nava, H O Douglass
Cancer 1992 January 1, 69 (1): 17-23
Review of the consultation records of the Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology service at Roswell Park Memorial Institute from 1982 to 1987 revealed 22 patients with a clinical diagnosis of neutropenic enterocolitis. Ninety-one percent of the patients had hematologic malignancies, and 95% were receiving cytotoxic chemotherapy. Sixteen patients were treated nonsurgically; 11 died. Of those 11 cases, autopsies were performed in 9. At autopsy, the clinical diagnosis was confirmed in four cases; four cases were found to have normal intestinal tracts, and one case had a small bowel volvulus. In none of the four cases for which autopsy proved neutropenic enterocolitis was transmural bowel necrosis or perforation found. Laparotomy was performed in six patients; three survived. The clinical diagnosis was verified in four of the six patients. Neutropenic enterocolitis must be considered a diagnosis of exclusion. Care of these patients should be individualized. Nonoperative management with bowel rest, decompression, nutritional support, and broad spectrum antibiotics is recommended initially. Operative intervention is recommended for those with perforation or those whose condition deteriorates clinically during close, frequent observation.

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