Clinical and CT features of benign pneumatosis intestinalis in pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant and oncology patients


Background: Pneumatosis intestinalis in children is associated with a wide variety of underlying conditions and often has a benign course. The CT features of this condition have not been systematically investigated. Objective: Defining benign pneumatosis intestinalis as pneumatosis intestinalis that resolved with medical management alone, we sought to: (1) determine whether the incidence of benign pneumatosis intestinalis had increased at our pediatric cancer hospital; (2) characterize CT features of benign pneumatosis intestinalis; and (3) determine the relationship between imaging features and clinical course of benign pneumatosis intestinalis in this cohort. Materials and methods: Radiology reports from November 1994 to December 2006 were searched for "pneumatosis intestinalis," "free intraperitoneal air," and "portal venous air or gas." Corresponding imaging was reviewed by two radiologists who confirmed pneumatosis intestinalis and recorded the presence of extraluminal free air, degree of intramural gaseous distension, number of involved bowel segments, and time to pneumatosis resolution. Results: The search revealed 12 boys and 4 girls with pneumatosis intestinalis; 11 were hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. The annual incidences of benign pneumatosis have not changed at our institution. Increases in intramural distension marginally correlated with the number of bowel segments involved (P=0.08). Three patients had free air and longer times to resolution of pneumatosis (P=0.03). Conclusion: Male children may be at increased risk of benign pneumatosis intestinalis. The incidence of benign pneumatosis at our institution is proportional to the number of hematopoietic stem cell transplants. The degree of intramural distension may correlate with the number of bowel segments involved. Patients with free air have a longer time to resolution of benign pneumatosis. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.

Publication Title

Pediatric Radiology