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Necrotizing enterocolitis

Other Names for this Disease
  • Enterocolitis, necrotizing
  • NEC
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Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a condition characterized by variable injury or damage to the intestinal tract, causing death of intestinal tissue.[1][2] The condition most often occurs in premature newborns, but it may also occur in term or near-term babies.[2] Signs and symptoms may include abdominal distension, bloody stools, vomiting bile-stained fluid, and pneumatosis intestinalis (gas in the bowel wall) identified on abdominal x-ray. Affected infants occasionally have temperature instability, lethargy, or other findings of sepsis.[2][2] The exact cause of NEC is unknown. Treatment involves stopping feedings, passing a small tube into the stomach to relieve gas, and giving intravenous fluids and antibiotics.[1][3] Surgery may be needed if there is perforated or necrotic (dead) bowel tissue.[3] About 60-80% of affected newborns survive the condition.[1]
Last updated: 2/4/2013


  1. Arthur E. Kopelman. Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). Merck Manuals. February 2009; enterocolitis&alt=sh. Accessed 2/4/2013.
  2. Shelley C Springer. Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Medscape Reference. January 24, 2012; Accessed 2/4/2013.
  3. Todd Eisner. Necrotizing enterocolitis. MedlinePlus. May 16, 2011; Accessed 2/4/2013.
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