Hexosaminidase: A marker for intestinal gangrene in necrotizing enterocolitis

Thom E. Lobe, Marshall Z. Schwartz, C. Joan Richardson, David Rassin, William K. Gourley, Satish Srivastava, Rostyk B. Storozuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Detection of intestinal ischemia, prior to necrosis, is a major clinical problem. The lysosomal acid hydrolase, hexosaminidase (HEX), is known to be elevated in intestinal infarction. To determine if this enzyme could differentiate between partial intestinal ischemia and full-thickness intestinal gangrene, the following rat study was designed. Partial segmental intestinal ischemia was created by ligating alternate vascular bundles over a short (6 vessel) segment of the small-bowel mesentery, and complete segmental intestinal vascular occlusion was achieved by ligating the blood supply to the ileocecal segment. Preoperative serum HEX values were obtained from 15 animals. The rats were separated into one sham-operated and two intestinal ischemia groups. At four hours after surgery HEX values were determined. Total HEX activity was significantly elevated four hours after insult in both partial and complete intestinal ischemia, (P<0.005 and P<0.001 respectively). Total HEX activity was greater in complete intestinal ischemia than in partial ischemia, (P< 0.05). Three neonates with intestinal perforation, secondary to necrotizing enterocolitis, were evaluated. The mean preoperative HEX activity was 1421 nmol/ hr/mL serum and the mean post-resection HEX activity was 808 nmol/hr/mL serum. These data suggest that serum HEX activity may be a good marker for intestinal gangrene in neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-452
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1983


  • Hexosaminidase
  • intestinal gangrene
  • mesenteric infarction
  • necrotizing enterocolitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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