Typhlitis. An 18-year experience and postmortem review

J A Katz, M L Wagner, M V Gresik, D H Mahoney, D J Fernbach
Cancer 1990 February 15, 65 (4): 1041-7
A review of pediatric autopsy results at the Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine from 1970 through 1987 was conducted. Thirty-three cases of typhlitis were identified in patients with acute leukemia and two cases each in patients with lymphoblastic lymphoma and aplastic anemia. Patients ranged in age from 10 months to 17 years. Fifty-seven percent were male and 43% were female. All were myelosuppressed. A postmortem incidence rate of 24% was determined for patients with acute leukemia. Common symptoms included abdominal pain and distention in 78% of patients and acute lower gastrointestinal bleeding in 35%. Abdominal radiographs varied in spectrum from a nonspecific bowel gas pattern to frank right colonic pneumatosis intestinalis. Thirty-three patients received chemotherapy within 30 days before onset of abdominal symptoms. All patients were febrile (greater than 38.5 degrees C), and 33 received broad-spectrum antibiotics. Three patients received amphotericin B. Premortem, 84% of organisms cultured from blood were bacterial whereas 16% were fungal. Fungal pathogens accounted for 53% of new microorganisms seen at autopsy. Postmortem examination showed typhlitis in the following anatomic distributions: (1) confined to the cecum; (2) involving the cecum and ileum; (3) involving the cecum, ileum, and ascending colon; or (4) involving the cecum, with sporadic ulcers throughout the intestine. This review includes clinical and postmortem features of typhlitis and current strategies for diagnosis and management.

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