Preoperative metabolic acidosis in infants with gastroschisis

INTRODUCTION: There is little in literature regarding preoperative management of infants with gastroschisis. It is unclear if these infants develop metabolic acidosis as a consequence of prolonged intrauterine gut compromise or dehydration secondary to increased fluid loss.
AIM: To assess the frequency of preoperative metabolic acidosis in infants with gastroschisis and investigate whether this acidosis reflects degree of gut compromise.
METHODS: All infants with gastroschisis born between May 2005 and April 2013 in a single tertiary care center were reviewed. Metabolic acidosis was defined by the presence of pH <7.26 and serum bicarbonate <18.5 or base excess < –8.5 mmol/l. Infants with significant birth depression were excluded. Maternal and neonatal data were collected. Frequency of preoperative metabolic acidosis and its association with gastroschisis prognostic score (GPS), time to first and time to reach full feeds were investigated.
RESULTS: Sixty infants were identified, 11 were excluded (birth depression/lack of preoperative blood gases). Median preoperative total fluid intake was 130 ml/kg/d. Nine infants (18%) had metabolic acidosis at a median age of 1.2 hours. No association was found between metabolic acidosis or serum lactate and GPS, age at first feed or age at full feeds.
CONCLUSION:Preoperative metabolic acidosis was identified in a significant number of patients with gastroschisis despite high fluid intake. It does not appear to be associated with the degree of gut compromise. Using metabolic acidosis as an indication of dehydration in these patients needs more investigation.

*Corresponding Author: 

Walid El-Naggar, MD, FRCPC, Dalhousie University, IWK Health Centre, 5850/5980 University Ave. PO Box 9700, Halifax, NS B3K 6R, Canada. Tel.: +1 902 470 7961; Fax: +1 902 470 6469; E-mail: