Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
A serious disease process in which the bowel wall is injured and bacteria invade the compromised area. Infection and inflammation can lead to systemic symptoms of acute illness.
How does this NEC happen?
NEC usually occurs in preterm infants or infants with heart disease. In either case, the integrity of the bowel wall is affected due to poor oxygenated blood flow. The injured bowel is subject to invasion by bacteria while being challenged with feedings.
What is the usual treatment for NEC?
Bowel rest, antibiotics, and decompression are the foundations of treatment.
What are the complications of NEC?
Sometimes the bowel wall is so compromised it ruptures and air leaks into the abdominal cavity, which is an indication for surgery. Long-term complications include potential development of strictures or scars that narrow the opening in the intestine creating an obstruction.