High incidence of postoperative bowel obstruction in newborns and infants

Janet Y. Young, Daniel S. Kim, Christopher S. Muratore, Arlet G. Kurkchubasche, Thomas F. Tracy, Francois I. Luks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative bowel obstruction (PBO) plagues patients of all ages after intraabdominal surgery. We examined the incidence, risk factors, and the need for operative intervention of PBO. Methods: We reviewed all children who underwent a laparotomy or laparoscopy. Parameters included age, diagnosis, type and number of procedures, complications, time interval to PBO, treatment of PBO, morbidity, and mortality. Results: From 2001 to 2005, 2187 abdominal operations were performed. Overall, 61 patients (2.8%) developed a PBO; 43 (70.5%) required reoperation. Postoperative bowel obstruction was more common in patients younger than 1 year (28/601, 4.7%) compared with older children (33/1586, 2.1%; P = .01, β = .80). In infants, PBO was not influenced by initial diagnosis (P = .26) or whether the initial operation was clean/clean-contaminated or contaminated/dirty (P = .12). In children older than 1 year, nonoperative treatment was more likely to be successful if PBO occurred within 12 weeks of initial operation (12/16 vs 3/14; P = .01). In contrast, all but one infant (16/17) with early PBO required reoperation. Conclusion: The incidence of PBO is significantly higher in newborns and infants than in older children (who have rates comparable to those reported in adults). Infants are significantly more likely to require operative intervention, particularly if PBO occurs early after the initial operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-965
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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