Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC)

Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe intestinal inflammation that may lead to the baby's abdomen distending, causing pain.

X-ray or ultrasound will detect small bubbles of gas on the intestinal wall and in severe cases, the intestine may burst. In such cases, the baby's condition can rapidly deteriorate and blood tests will frequently show signs of severe infection.

The treatment is bowel rest, i.e. the baby receives no food through the stomach but only IV nutrition and antibiotics. In severe cases, surgery is required, if there are indications of a ruptured intestine and free gas in the abdomen, or if there is a risk of a severely inflamed intestine. During surgery, a piece of the intestine may have have to be removed and a colostomy may be required. Babies with severe NEC often need to be transferred to Karolinska in Solna where there are paediatric surgeons in case surgery is required.

Text: Kajsa Bohlin Blennow