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exploratory laparotomy (LAP), isolated intestinal perforation, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), primary peritoneal drain (PPD), very low birth weight (VLBW)



  1. Nguyen, Helen MSN, RN, NNP
  2. Lund, Carolyn Houska MS, RN, FAAN


Premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit are at risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and bowel perforation. Unfortunately the mortality and morbidity for intestinal perforation in neonates, especially extremely low-birth-weight infants (VLBW), is high. The criterion standard traditional management for bowel perforation has been exploratory laparotomy (LAP). Another less invasive alternative treatment modality for selected intestinal perforation is primary peritoneal drainage (PPD). The role and efficacy of PPD as a definitive treatment instead of laparotomy remains to be determined. To better appreciate the emergence and evolving role of PPD in the management of intestinal perforation in NEC or isolated intestinal perforation, 8 selected research articles will be reviewed. Findings from these studies will be summarized to address the original purpose of PPD as a rescue and stabilizing measure for VLBW infants with complicated NEC, the expanded and superior role of PPD when it is used for VLBW infants with isolated ileal perforation, and PPD not as a sole surgical management but as an adjunct therapy to LAP in perforated NEC for the VLBW infants.