Management of Pediatric Adhesive Small Bowel Obstruction: Do Timing of Surgery and Age Matter?

Jonathan Hyak, Giovanni Campagna, Brittany Johnson, Zachary Stone, Yangyang Yu, Eric Rosenfeld, Wei Zhang, Bindi Naik-Mathuria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Adhesive small bowel obstruction (ASBO) in children is generally managed with initial observation. However, no clear guidelines exist regarding indications to operate. Our purpose was to compare outcomes of ASBO management to determine whether timing of surgery and patient age should affect management. Materials and methods: A retrospective review of children admitted to a tertiary care children's hospital for ASBO between 2011 and 2015 was performed. Data included demographics, imaging, operative findings, and clinical management, which were analyzed using χ2 test, Fischer's exact test, t-test, analysis of variance, or logistic regression when appropriate. Results: We identified 258 admissions for 202 patients. Urgent operation was performed in 12% and the rest had nonoperative management (NOM), which was successful in 54%. Patients younger than 1 y of age were more likely to require operation (odds ratio 3.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.69-8.15; P < 0.01), and patients with prior ASBO were less likely to require operation (odds ratio 0.51, 95% CI 0.31-0.84; P < 0.01). At presentation, fever was most common in patients who had urgent operation (22.3% versus failure of NOM 7.6% versus successful NOM 6.6%; P = 0.02), but there were no differences in leukocytosis or abdominal pain. Excluding urgent operations, bowel resection was more common when operation was delayed more than 48 h (32.6% versus 15.3%; P = 0.04). Conclusions: In children with adhesive small bowel obstruction, NOM can be successful, but when failure is suspected, early operation before 48 h should be considered to avoid bowel loss, especially in children younger than 1 y of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-390
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Children
  • Outcomes
  • Pediatrics
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Timing of surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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