Background and study aims Critically ill newborns have many risk factors to develop stress related mucosal lesions (SRML). We used upper endoscopy to evaluate the presence of SRML in these neonates, to know the specificity and sensitivity of the bloody gastric aspirate to detect SRML and to identify the risk factors associated with the presence of SRML and bloody gastric aspirate.
Patients and methods This is a cross-sectional study done on 100 critically ill newborn after becoming clinically stable. SRML were diagnosed if there is hyperemia, erosions or ulcers in the esophagus, stomach, and/or the duodenum. The association between the various clinico-laboratory findings and the presence of SRML and bloody gastric aspirate were studied.
Results SRML were found in 77% of neonates in the NICU though frank bloody aspirate was detected in only 22% of neonates. The presence of bloody aspirate showed low sensitivity (24.68%) for the presence of SRML and high specificity (86.96%). The presence of bloody gastric aspirate showed a double fold risk for the presence SRML (OR=2.184, CI=0.584–8.171). Factors associated with SRML included respiratory distress (p=0.000, risk= 4.006), the use of nasogastric tube (p=0.017, OR=3.281) and the use of triple antibiotics (p=0.001, risk=1.432). Factors associated with the presence of bloody gastric aspirate included the use of nasogastric tube (OR=1.629, p=0.000) and the presence of hemostatic disorders (OR=3.143, p=0.039). It was also associated with lower hemoglobin levels (p=0.000).
Conclusion SRML represents an under-diagnosed problem in NICUs. Absence of bloody gastric aspirate does not exclude stress-related mucosal lesions.