What is the significance of loop distention on abdominal radiography in the evaluation of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)?

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

Distended loops of small bowel are one of the most common, although nonspecific, radiographic findings in NEC. Air-fluid levels and bowel wall edema may also develop. Serial radiographic studies are important to monitor the degree of distention and to observe for any fixed or dilated loops of bowel persistent in nature and location for 24 hours. Some series have shown that intestinal necrosis requiring operative management develops in approximately 50% of infants with bowel loops.


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