Meconium peritonitis is a condition where perforation of the bowel due to a number of congenital pathologies, leads to the introduction of meconium into the peritoneal cavity. This causes a sterile inflammatory reaction.
Meconium peritonitis (MP) is a rare condition that results from the development of bowel obstruction in a growing fetus within the uterus. This may lead to perforation of the gut wall, which in turn leads to a leakage of meconium into the peritoneal cavity. Aseptic peritonitis ensues, due to a secondary inflammatory response. The outcome of MP depends to some extent on diagnostic and management approaches, which have greatly improved over the years  . Severity and symptomatology of the condition are determined by the gestational age of the fetus, at the time the perforation occurs.
There are many possible causes of bowel obstruction in utero. These range from vascular factors such as mesenteric ischemia, to bowel pathologies such as meconium ileus, intussusception, volvulus, intestinal atresia, Hirschsprung's disease, hernias, and meconium plugs . In addition to these, congenital infections, particularly parvovirus B19, rubella and cytomegalovirus, have been shown to be predisposing factors in the occurrence of MP . There is an established association between MP and cystic fibrosis . Polyhydramnios, jejunoileal atresia, and other gastrointestinal malformations have also been linked to MP.
There are three main classes of MP, the first being fibro-adhesive. This results in calcification and tissue deposition on the area of perforation, producing a mass that seals the defect. Most perforations are closed off before birth. The other types of MP are cystic and generalized. Additional effects of the inflammatory changes that may occur include ascites, fibrosis and intraperitoneal meconium calcifications.
Entire Body System
- Neonatal Intestinal Obstruction
The water-soluble enema will also exclude other causes of neonatal intestinal obstruction. [clinicalgate.com]
- Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection
- Transient Hypothyroidism
Biliary atresia, malrotation, meconium peritonitis and transient hypothyroidism are occasionally seen in neonatal infants. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Bilious Vomiting
Six fetuses showed abdominal distension, bilious vomiting, and no normal meconium at birth; they underwent exploratory laparotomies and subsequently, survived and prospered. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
vomiting Imaging Findings On conventional radiographs Meconium, being fluid density, is normally invisible on radiographs In meconium ileus, there may be dilated loops of bowel (small bowel) typically without air-fluid levels because of the viscosity [learningradiology.com]
Failure to pass meconium (stool) may lead to bilious vomiting and abdominal distention. [surgery4children.com]
Clinical presentation included abdominal distension, bilious vomiting, and failure to pass meconium. In two recent cases, prenatal ultrasonography detected a mass with proximal bowel distension indicative of cystic meconium peritonitis. [link.springer.com]
- Pelvic Mass
RESULTS: The prenatal US and/or MRI findings showed fetal ascites, a multicystic pelvic mass, oligohydramnios, and bilateral hydronephrosis in 5 of 11 patients with cloacal malformations. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
- Reduced Fetal Movement
The clinical utility of this report is the recognition that meconium peritonitis (MP) may be diagnosed in the acute phase with typical ultrasound features, and should be considered in the differential diagnoses of cases presented with reduced fetal movements [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
The diagnosis of meconium peritonitis can be made either in utero or after birth. Some features of the disease can spontaneously resolve before birth. It may be beneficial to test for cystic fibrosis, as there is a strong correlation between the two conditions.
During the prenatal period, imaging techniques are used to assess the fetal abdomen. These are:
- Ultrasound: A snowstorm appearance of the abdomen may be visualized, as well as focal calcifications that appear hyperechoic . Some of the other likely findings on ultrasound examination are fetal ascites, wide abdominal circumference and polyhydramnios . Distended bowel loops may also be present. The use of ultrasound may be instrumental in predicting the overall outcome of the newborn. Furthermore, information gained from imaging can predict the likelihood of surgery during the neonatal period. Some literature classifies ultrasound findings in MP into types I to III, which correspond to: massive ascites, giant pseudocysts and small pseudocysts or calcifications  . Types I and II were shown to be predictive of poor outcomes in the neonatal period. In addition, if such features persist, surgery is usually required in the postnatal period .
- Xray: This may show peritoneal or scrotal calcifications (in cases of a patent processus vaginalis), and an intraabdominal mass, which is often a meconium pseudocyst.
Establishing clear postnatal treatment and prognosis is difficult because of the heterogeneity of the results obtained by ultrasound. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Prognosis: In case of simple peritonitis the outcome is good and surgical intervention is not necessary. In case of complex peritonitis (associated with bowel dilatation, ascites) the prognosis is poor and neonatal mortality is >50%. [fetalmedicine.org]
The purpose of this article is to review a case of meconium peritonitis while considering its etiology, diagnosis, management, and multidisciplinary team care. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In addition, depending upon the etiology, ascites, polyhydramnios or fetal bowel distention may be present. [fetalsono.com]
Etiology fetal intestinal perforation Cystic fibrosis digestive cystic fibrosis fetal intestinal tumors jejunal congenital fibrosarcoma ( 12776248 ) Complications disseminated intravascular meconium meconium per vagina References Meconium peritonitis [humpath.com]
The etiology is thought to be the result of a sterile chemical reaction resulting from bowel perforation in utero. The bowel perforates as a result of bowel obstruction, such as an atresia or meconium ileus. [radiopaedia.org]
A retrospective epidemiologic study of pediatric fibrosarcomas. J Pediatr Surg. 1978; 13 735-738 9 Plaschkes J. Epidemiology of neonatal tumours. Puri P Neonatal Tumours. [thieme-connect.com]
The epidemiology of tracheo-oesophageal fistula and oesophageal atresia in Europe: EUROCAT Working Group. Arch Dis Child 1993;68:743-8. [ PUBMED ] 3. Spitz L. Esophageal atresia: Lessons I have learned in a 40-year experience. [afrjpaedsurg.org]
The pathophysiologic progression of this condition is demonstrated by serial ultrasound examinations. Neonatal radiologic confirmation of the diagnosis is also presented. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Newborn Surgery, Third Edition provides a comprehensive compendium of the pathophysiology, investigation and management of neonatal disorders. [books.google.com]
[…] rather than pulmonary complaints. 4 However, there is no evidence of distinct allelic frequencies or haplotypic variants in CF patients with MI compared with those without 22 or in CF patients with significant liver disease. 23, 24 Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology [clinicalgate.com]
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