BACKGROUND: We assessed cerebrovascular autoregulation (CAR) in preterm infants with definite necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), Bell's stage 2 or 3, and infants without NEC, using near-infrared spectroscopy. We hypothesized that CAR would be more often impaired in infants with NEC compared with infants without NEC.
METHODS: We measured cerebral regional tissue oxygen saturation, arterial oxygen saturation, and mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) during 48 h. We calculated the correlation between cerebral fractional tissue oxygen extraction and MABP for each patient. A statistically significant negative correlation reflected impaired CAR.
RESULTS: We included 15 infants with definite NEC (median (range) gestational age 27.4 (25.6-34.7) wk; birth weight 1,070 (670-2,400) g) and 13 infants without NEC (gestational age 27.9 (26.3-34.7) wk; birth weight 980 (640-2,640) g). Fourteen infants had a statistically significant negative correlation (rho - 0.468 to-0.104), of whom five were infants without NEC (5/13; 38%) and nine with definite NEC (9/15; 60%). The difference in prevalence of impaired CAR was not statistically significant.
CONCLUSION: Impaired CAR is present in a substantial proportion of infants with definite NEC, which may predispose them to NEC-associated neurological damage.