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AIM: Foetal bowel dilatation in gastroschisis is traditionally taken to be an indicator of poor prognosis and parents are counselled accordingly. Increased bowel distension is often a factor in the decision for early delivery. The aim of this study was to establish whether a correlation exists between antenatally detected bowel dilatation and the postnatal outcome for babies with gastroschisis. METHODS: Antenatal ultrasound scans and subsequent postnatal notes were reviewed for cases of isolated gastroschisis from 2004 to 2008. Bowel dilatation was defined as >10 mm diameter. The type (intra- and/or extra-abdominal dilatation), maximum bowel diameter and gestation at which bowel dilatation was first seen was recorded. Outcome measures included number of days of TPN, type of closure (primary or delayed) and postnatal complications. RESULTS: There were 60 antenatal cases of gastroschisis over 5 years. Postnatal notes of 47 were obtained. 38 (81%) had antenatal bowel dilatation, 9 did not. Of those with bowel dilatation, 24 underwent primary closure, 9 required silos, 2 a patch and 3 stomas. Seven (15%) had bowel atresia or necrosis. Three died: NEC, septicaemia and CMV hepatitis. The average time on TPN for those without major complications was 22 days. Of those with no bowel dilatation, 4 had primary closure, 3 a silo, 1 a patch and 1 a stoma. Two had complications requiring further surgery, including one atresia resulting in short gut syndrome. There were no deaths. The mean number of days on TPN was 23. The results also demonstrated no significant correlation between gestation when dilatation was first seen, or degree of dilatation, or both these factors combined, and time of TPN requirement. CONCLUSION: These results do not support the current practice of using antenatal bowel dilatation as a prognostic indicator.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatr Surg Int

Publication Date





581 - 588


Adolescent, Adult, Dilatation, Pathologic, Female, Gastroschisis, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Intestinal Diseases, Intestines, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Outcome, Prognosis, Retrospective Studies, Ultrasonography, Prenatal, Young Adult