Diagnosis, incidence, and outcomes of suspected typhlitis in oncology patients—experience in a tertiary pediatric surgical center in the United Kingdom

Dhanya Mullassery, Abdulgader Bader, Anna J Battersby, Zeenat Mohammad, Emma Louise L Jones, Chetan Parmar, Roger Scott, Barry L Pizer, Colin T Baillie
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2009, 44 (2): 381-5

BACKGROUND: Typhlitis is clinically defined by the triad of neutropenia, abdominal pain, and fever. Radiologic evidence of colonic inflammation supports the diagnosis. We report a single United Kingdom tertiary center experience with management and outcome of typhlitis for 5 years.

METHODS: Hospital computerized records were screened for ultrasound or computerized tomographic scan requests for abdominal pain for all oncology inpatients (2001-2005). Retrospective case note analysis was used to collect clinical data for patients with features of typhlitis.

RESULTS: The incidence of typhlitis among oncology inpatients was 6.7% (40/596) among oncology inpatients and 11.6% (40/345) among those on chemotherapy. Eighteen children had radiologically confirmed typhlitis, and 22 had clinical features alone. Most (93%) patients responded to conservative management. Eighteen children had a variable period of bowel rest, including 12 patients who were supported with total parenteral nutrition. Three patients had laparotomy that revealed extensive colonic bowel necrosis (1), perforated gastric ulcer (1), and a perforated appendix (1). A single child died of fulminant gram-negative sepsis without surgical intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: The diagnosis of typhlitis was based on clinical features, supported by radiologic evidence in almost half of the study group. Surgical intervention should be reserved for specific complications or where another surgical pathologic condition cannot reasonably be ruled out.

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