To describe the pathology and clinical features of segmental necrotising enterocolitis (SNE) in children and adults, 22 diarrhoeal patients (median age two years, range two months to 50 years) in Bangladesh with this lesion detected at autopsy were examined and compared with two groups of diarrhoeal control patients. Gross pathology consisted of purplish or black mucosal or transmural discoloration with erosions or ulcerations in segments of the jejunum or ileum of 18 cases and of the colon alone in four cases. Two patients had intestinal perforations. Microscopically all specimens showed coagulation necrosis or haemorrhagic necrosis indicative of mucosal ischaemia. In 20 cases there was submucosal oedema and nine showed pneumatosis of the bowel. From 11, one or more of the invasive diarrhoeal pathogens Shigella, Campylobacter and Entamoeba histolytica were detected. From the comparison with controls significant associations were found for a long duration of diarrhoea, blood and mucus in stool, abdominal distension or tenderness, shock not attributable to hypovolaemia, septicaemia, and low concentration of serum protein (p less than 0.05). These findings indicated that segmental necrotising enterocolitis develops sometimes as a fatal complication of prolonged diarrhoeal illnesses associated with shock and hypoproteinaemia and is caused by ischaemic injury to the intestinal mucosa.
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