The necessity for T-cryptantigen activation screening in babies with necrotising enterocolitis

Kirsten G.F. ; Smith J. ; Pieper C. ; Bird A. ; Wessels G. ; Riphagen S. ; Moore S. (1996)


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Objective. To determine the prevalence of T-cryptantigen activation (TCA) and its predictive value for severity of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) in babies. Study design. Prospective descriptive. Study population. Thirty-four babies with NEC were prospectively screened for TCA at Tygerberg Hospital over a 6-month period. TGA screening was done by testing for red blood cell agglutination by the common peanut lectin, Arachis hypogea. Once TCA was confirmed, only washed red cells were administered to the babies and plasma-containing blood products were avoided. NEC was divided into suspected NEC (stage 1), classic NEC (stage 2) and fulminant NEC (stage 3). Main outcome measures. Prevalence of TCA in babies with various stages of NEC; the association between TCA and bowel necrosis, need for surgery and mortality. Results. TCA was positive in 8 (24%) of the babies in this study. Six babies (18%) had stage 1 NEC, 10 (29%) had stage 2 NEC and 18 (53%) had fulminating or stage 3 NEC. All 18 babies with stage 3 NEC required surgery and TCA was present in 8 (47%) of them. Twelve babies (35%) died, 3 with TCA and 9 with no TCA. Babies with TCA had portal venous gas on abdominal radiographs (P = 0.037) and stage 3 NEC (P = 0.003) more often than babies with no TCA. Conclusions. A strong association was noted between TCA and the fulminant form of NEC with bower necrosis. TCA in a baby with NEC should alert the surgeon to the possibility of severe disease and the need to avoid plasma-containing blood products. Blood banks are urged to introduce routine screening for TCA in all babies with NEC.

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