Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious disease that occurs when the intestinal tissue become damaged and begins to die. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Necrotizing Enterocolitis include swelling in the abdomen, bloody stools, and diarrhea. If not treated, Necrotizing Enterocolitis can become life-threatening. In a severe case of Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a hole may form in the wall of the intestine and if this happens, the bacteria normally found inside the intestine can leak into the abdomen and cause infection.
HOW IS NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS DIAGNOSED?
A doctor can diagnose NEC by doing a physical examination and running various tests. During the exam, the doctor will gently touch your baby’s abdomen to check for swelling, pain, and tenderness. They'll then perform an abdominal X-ray. The X-ray will provide detailed images of the intestine, allowing the doctor to look for signs of inflammation and damage more easily. Tests may include:
• Abdominal x-ray
• Stool for occult blood test (guaiac)
• CBC (complete blood count)
• Electrolyte levels, blood gases and other blood tests
HOW IS NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS TREATED?
Treatment is based on the severity of the issue and the overall health of the baby. The doctor may ask you to stop breastfeeding the baby and the baby will be given fluids and nutrients intravenously. Antibiotics will be administered to fight the infection. Surgery is recommended in severe cases of NEC.
DID YOU KNOW?
In severe cases of the necrotizing enterocolitis, the inner lining of the intestinal tissues gets inflamed to an extent that there can be a hole created on the walls of the intestines. This can cause bacteria found inside the intestine to leak into the abdomen causing widespread infection.