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  1. Marin, Terri PhD, NNP-BC, FAANP
  2. Moore, James E. MD, PhD


Background: The multifactorial pathology and broad clinical presentation of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) development in premature infants make prediction of disease onset extremely challenging. Over the past decade, packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusions have been temporally linked to the development of NEC in severely anemic preterm infants, although this issue is highly controversial.


Purpose: In this case study, we describe events of an extremely low birth-weight infant who developed NEC complicated by pneumoperitoneum after receiving multiple PRBC transfusions. Specifically, we describe mesenteric tissue oxygenation trend changes as measured by continuous near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technology.


Methods: As part of a larger prospective, observational investigation, this infant was monitored with NIRS (INVOS 5100C; Medtronic, Boulder, Colorado) before, during, and 48 hours following PRBC transfusions.


Results: The infant demonstrated severe, prolonged, and persistent reductions in mesenteric tissue oxygenation following blood transfusions, yet routine physiologic monitoring did not indicate intestinal hypoperfusion or impending NEC onset.


Implications for Practice: This report demonstrates the ability of NIRS to capture possible tissue ischemia during early stages of NEC that may help guide bedside therapeutic interventions.


Implications for Research: Larger cohort studies to evaluate the ability of NIRS to capture early tissue ischemia are essential to validate the feasibility of adding this technology as a routine clinical bedside tool.


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