Management of neutropenic enterocolitis in children with cancer


Nicklas Sundell, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Institution of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska University, Gothenburg, Sweden. Tel: +46-31-3434331 | Fax: +46-31-847813 | Email:


Aim:  To describe the symptoms, clinical management and short-term outcome in a series of paediatric oncology patients with severe typhlitis following conservative treatment.

Methods:  Twelve episodes of severe typhlitis in 11 children with cancer treated at the paediatric oncology ward at Queen Silvias Children’s Hospital between 1995 and 2006 were analysed retrospectively. Data on symptoms, radiological findings, laboratory status and treatment as well as outcome were collected and analysed.

Results:  In all episodes, the classical signs of neutropenia, fever, abdominal pain and thickening of the bowel wall were present. All were successfully treated with bowel rest, broadspectrum antibiotics and supportive care. After recovery from typhlitis, three patients needed surgical intervention because of complications.

Conclusion:  A high clinical suspicion combined with radiological imaging aids early diagnosis. Predisposing factors for developing typhlitis were haematologic malignancy and treatment with chemotherapy within 3 weeks of onset. Supportive care, bowel rest including parenteral nutrition, correction of cytopenias and aggressive antimicrobial treatment is essential. Measurements of C-reactive protein in blood may be of benefit when assessing the clinical course.