Experience with the fairly simple and safe technique of proctoscopy in an infant using an ordinary auroscope is reported. The use of the auroscope showed the presence of a frank colitis in 13 of 14 consecutive cases of necrotising enterocolitis. A prospective study was made during a 6-month period of 51 infants with diarrhoea referred to a gastroenterology isolation unit; proctoscopic findings that suggested colitis were found in 10. Of these, 3 appeared to have necrotising enterocolitis; 3 had salmonella or shigella dysentery; in 3 of the remaining 4 the findings were localised to the anus, with normal mucosa above. This was attributed to a mild rectal prolapse on straining. There was no correlation between the severity of the diarrhoea and the presence of colitis. Proctoscopy is safe and valuable in the early diagnosis of necrotising enterocolitis. It is also helped in assessing the progress of the disease.
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