Although currently available data are variable, it appears that the incidence of surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has not decreased significantly over the past decade. Pneumoperitoneum and clinical deterioration despite maximal medical therapy remain the most common indications for operative treatment. Robust studies linking outcomes with specific indications for operation are lacking. Promising biomarkers for severe NEC include fecal calprotectin and S100A12; serum fatty acid-binding protein; and urine biomarkers. Recent advances in ultrasonography make this imaging modality more useful in identifying surgical NEC and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is being actively studied. Another fairly recent finding is that regionalization of care for infants with NEC likely improves outcomes. The neurodevelopmental outcomes after surgical treatment are known to be poor. A randomized trial near completion will provide robust data regarding neurodevelopmental outcomes after laparotomy versus drainage as the initial operative treatment for severe NEC.
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