Introduction: Data on laboratory markers of spontaneous intestinal perforation (SIP) and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) remain sparse.
Objective: To compare serum alkaline phosphatase levels in infants with bowel perforation secondary to SIP versus surgical NEC, and then investigate the possible role of serum alkaline phosphatase in differentiating infants with these conditions.
Methods: A retrospective case-control study of infants admitted with bowel perforation from 2005 to 2015. Demographic and prenatal data, postnatal exposures, and clinical, laboratory, and radiographic findings were extracted from inpatient medical records and analyzed using regression analysis.
Results: Of 114 outborn infants included, 48 infants had SIP (cases) and 66 had NEC (controls). Upon admission from the referring hospital, the serum alkaline phosphatase level was significantly higher in infants with SIP, i.e., a median value of 782 versus236 U/L in NEC patients (p < 0.0001), with an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 4.3 (p < 0.05) when the level was >500 U/L in multivariate regression model. Infants with SIP had significantly younger gestational age, presented earlier in life, primarily with pneumoperitoneum, and had greater exposure to steroids and indomethacin compared to infants with NEC. Alkaline phosphatase levels decreased rapidly in infants with SIP following admission.
Conclusion: A transient increase in serum alkaline phosphatase level is independently associated with SIP when compared to NEC. Studies to confirm the role of alkaline phosphatase in the diagnosis of SIP are necessary and have potentially significant clinical and prognostic implications