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Necrotizing fasciitis: a serious complication of omphalitis in neonates.

Necrotizing fasciitis occurs when the inflammation (cellulitis) spreads beyond the umbilicus to include the subcutaneous tissue and underlying fascia. Presently, omphalitis is relatively uncommon because of aseptic delivery techniques and antimicrobial therapy. One hundred three neonates aged 7 to 28 days, with varying degrees of omphalitis, were treated on an outpatient or inpatient basis between 1989 and mid-1993. The neonates were full-term and weighed at least 2.5 kg. Patients with necrotizing fasciitis initially appear deceptively well, which results in less-than-optimum treatment at the outset, followed by a rapid and fulminating downhill course, in turn resulting in death within 24 to 72 hours. Early recognition of the condition, with aggressive resuscitation, appropriate antibiotics, and early surgery are necessary to salvage this high-risk group. The risk factors that may predict the development of necrotizing fasciitis and its early detection are discussed.

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