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Managing neonatal bowel obstruction: clinical perspectives

Authors Desoky SM, Kylat RI, Udayasankar U, Gilbertson-Dahdal D

Received 28 July 2017

Accepted for publication 7 November 2017

Published 5 February 2018 Volume 2018:8 Pages 19—32

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/RRN.S125760

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert Schelonka


Sarah M Desoky,1 Ranjit I Kylat,2 Unni Udayasankar,1 Dorothy Gilbertson-Dahdal1

1Department of Medical Imaging, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA; 2Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA

Abstract: Neonatal intestinal obstruction is a common surgical emergency and occurs in approximately 1 in 2,000 live births. The causes of obstruction are diverse with varied embryological origins, and some underlying etiologies are not yet well described. Some findings of neonatal bowel obstruction can be detected prenatally on ultrasound imaging. The obstruction is classified as “high” when the level of obstruction is proximal to the ileum, and “low” when the level of obstruction is at the ileum or colon. Early diagnosis of the type of intestinal obstruction and localization of the obstructive bowel segment guides timely and appropriate management of the underlying pathologic entity. Neonatal bowel obstructions are ideally managed at specialized centers with a large volume of neonatal surgery and dedicated pediatric surgical and anesthesia expertise. Although surgical intervention is necessary in most cases, initial management strategies often target underlying metabolic, cardiac, or respiratory abnormalities. Imaging plays a key role in early and accurate diagnosis of the abnormalities. When bowel obstruction is suspected clinically, initial imaging workup usually involves abdominal radiography, which may direct further evaluation with fluoroscopic examination such as upper gastrointestinal (UGI) contrast study or contrast enema. This article provides a comprehensive review of clinical and radiological features of common and less common causes of intestinal obstruction in the neonatal age group, including esophageal atresia, enteric duplication cysts, gastric volvulus, congenital microgastria, hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, duodenal atresia, intestinal malrotation, intussusception, intestinal atresia, meconium ileus, functional immaturity of the colon, Hirschsprung disease, and anorectal malformation. The embryology, epidemiology, clinical presentation, and brief medical and surgical management of each is described.

Keywords: neonatal, bowel, intestinal, obstruction

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