Negative laparotomy in trauma: are we getting better?

Schnüriger, Beat; Lam, Lydia; Inaba, Kenji; Kobayashi, Leslie; Barbarino, Raffaella; Demetriades, Demetrios (2012). Negative laparotomy in trauma: are we getting better? American surgeon, 78(11), pp. 1219-23. Atlanta, Ga.: Southeastern Surgical Congress

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One of the trauma surgeons' daily challenges is the balancing act between negative laparotomy and missed abdominal injury. We opted to characterize the indications that prompted a negative trauma exploratory laparotomy and the rate of missed abdominal injuries in an effort to optimize patient selection for laparotomy. At the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, negative laparotomies and missed injuries are consecutively captured and reviewed at the weekly mortality + morbidity (MM) conferences. All written reports of the MM meetings from January 2003 to December 2008 were reviewed to identify all patients who underwent a negative laparotomy or a laparotomy as a result of an initially missed abdominal injury. Over the 6-year study period, a total of 1871 laparotomies were performed, of which 73 (3.9%) were negative. The rate of missed injuries requiring subsequent laparotomy was 1.3 per cent (25 of 1871). The negative laparotomy rate and the rate of missed injuries did not vary significantly during the study period (2.8 to 4.7%, P = 0.875, and 0.7 to 2.9%, P = 0.689). Penetrating mechanisms accounted for the majority of negative laparotomies (58.9%). The primary indication for negative laparotomy was peritonitis (54.8%) followed by hypotension (28.8%) and suspicious computed tomographic scan findings (27.4%). The complication rate after negative laparotomy was 14.5 per cent, and of these, 10.1 per cent were directly related to the procedure. A low but steady rate of negative laparotomies and missed abdominal injuries after trauma remains. Negative laparotomies and missed abdominal injuries when they occur are still associated with significant complication rates and a prolonged length of stay.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine > Visceral Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Schnüriger, Beat




Southeastern Surgical Congress




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:40

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 21:35

PubMed ID:


URI: (FactScience: 224035)

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