Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 48, Issue 12, pp 1755–1762 | Cite as

Meconium peritonitis: the role of postnatal radiographic and sonographic findings in predicting the need for surgery

  • Pablo Caro-Domínguez
  • Augusto Zani
  • David Chitayat
  • Alan DanemanEmail author
Original Article



The role of imaging in meconium peritonitis is not limited to establishing a diagnosis; rather, it might also be helpful in determining which neonates require surgery. However, few data in the literature correlate the postnatal radiographic and sonographic findings with the need for surgery.


To compare the role of postnatal radiographic and sonographic findings in predicting the need for surgery in neonates with meconium peritonitis.

Materials and methods

We conducted a retrospective analysis of clinical, imaging and surgical findings in all neonates with meconium peritonitis in the period 1999–2014. We divided the children into operative or non-operative groups and then correlated each group with the presence or absence of the following findings on both the radiographs and sonograms: peritoneal calcification, meconium pseudocyst, intestinal obstruction, volvulus, ascites and pneumoperitoneum.


Thirty-seven neonates (22 males, 15 females) had meconium peritonitis in this period, of whom 23 (62%) required surgery and 14 (38%) were successfully treated non-surgically. None had an antenatal infection and three had cystic fibrosis (8%). Bowel obstruction identified on radiography (12/23, P=0.01) and sonography (9/23, P=0.04) and ascites identified with sonography (7/23, P=0.01) were associated with the need for surgical intervention. The presence of pneumoperitoneum and volvulus were also associated with surgical intervention. There was no significant statistical difference in the number of neonates with diffuse peritoneal calcification who were treated operatively or non-operatively. Four (33%) of the 12 neonates with meconium pseudocysts were successfully treated non-operatively.


Imaging findings that predicted the need for surgery were intestinal obstruction, ascites, volvulus and pneumoperitoneum. Neonates with meconium pseudocysts did not require surgery if they were not associated with the described findings. The findings in our patients also indicate that those with diffuse peritoneal calcification as an isolated finding can be successfully treated non-operatively.


Meconium peritonitis Neonates Radiography Sonography Surgical management 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pablo Caro-Domínguez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Augusto Zani
    • 3
  • David Chitayat
    • 4
    • 5
  • Alan Daneman
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Medical ImagingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Unidad de Imagen Pediátrica, Health TimeHospital VIAMED Santa Ángela de la CruzSevillaSpain
  3. 3.Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Hospital for Sick ChildrenUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.The Prenatal Diagnosis and Medical Genetics Program, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai HospitalUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Division of Clinical Genetics and Metabolism, Department of Pediatrics, The Hospital for Sick ChildrenUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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