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'Spontaneous' neonatal gastric perforation: is it really spontaneous?

'Spontaneous' neonatal gastric perforation: is it really spontaneous?

Journal of Pediatric Surgery 35(7): 1066-1069

Most historical reports have described gastric perforation in the neonatal population as "spontaneous." More recently, several variables, including prematurity and nasal ventilation, have been implicated as contributing factors. The authors sought to analyze the etiology, course, and outcome of newborns with spontaneous gastric perforation from one institution over a 16-year period. The authors reviewed retrospectively the charts of all infants who underwent operation or had perforation of the stomach diagnosed in the newborn period. Among more than 84,000 live births, 7 newborns were identified with perforation of the stomach. Four had coexisting gastrointestinal lesions (2 necrotizing enterocolitis, 1 undiagnosed tracheoesophageal fistula, 1 meconium plug), and 1 received nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In only 2 cases were no other gastrointestinal lesions or other presumed contributing factors (nasal CPAP) present, and thus, only 2 cases could be classified as "spontaneous." Mortality rate was 57%. Three of the patients were premature, all of whom died. Whereas in the older literature, most cases of gastric perforation were considered spontaneous, and were full term, the authors' review of 7 cases over a 16-year period leads us to question the cause as spontaneous. The authors found that prematurity and concomitant gastrointestinal lesions were associated with gastric perforation in the neonate and that few cases truly are spontaneous. The authors suggest that when gastric perforation occurs in neonates, a contributing cause should be sought.

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Accession: 045009258

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PMID: 10917298

DOI: 10.1053/jpsu.2000.7773

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