What is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)?

Updated: Dec 27, 2017
  • Author: Shelley C Springer, JD, MD, MSc, MBA, FAAP; Chief Editor: Muhammad Aslam, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) medical/surgical emergency occurring in neonates. An acute inflammatory disease with a multifactorial and controversial etiology, the condition is characterized by variable damage to the intestinal tract ranging from mucosal injury to full-thickness necrosis and perforation (see the image below). (See Etiology.)

Normal (top) versus necrotic section of bowel. Pho Normal (top) versus necrotic section of bowel. Photo courtesy of the Department of Pathology, Cornell University Medical College.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!