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Population‐based study of the surgical workload and economic impact of bowel obstruction caused by postoperative adhesions

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Intestinal obstruction is the most severe consequence of adhesion formation. This study examined the annual surgical workload and costs of intestinal obstruction caused by postoperative intra‐abdominal adhesions.


The study was a retrospective case‐note review of patients hospitalized for intestinal obstruction caused by postoperative adhesions in a well defined geographical area. The surgical workload and direct costs of inpatient care were analysed.


There were 138 admissions for postoperative adhesion‐related intestinal obstruction during the study with a total of 1118 inpatient days. The median hospital stay was 4 (range 1–58) days among patients who had non‐operative treatment and 11 (range 2–34) days for those who had surgery. Surgery was necessary in 40 patients (29·0 per cent). The mean operating time (time from skin incision to last stitch) and the mean time spent in the operating theatre were 79 and 141 min respectively. The cumulative operating time for the surgical group was 52 h 20 min and the cumulative theatre time was 93 h 44 min. The annual direct hospital cost for postoperative adhesional intestinal obstruction was £181 653 in the district studied and the estimated cost for the whole of Finland was £2 077 796.


This population‐based study indicates that the workload and costs associated with bowel obstruction caused by postoperative adhesions are substantial. Copyright © 2003 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Surgery, University of Turku, Turku, Finland 2: Department of Surgery, Turku City Hospital for Surgery, Turku, Finland

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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