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Missed Inadvertent Gastrointestinal Injuries During Abdominal Operations: Characteristics, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Inadvertent gastrointestinal tract injuries (IGITI) during abdominal operations increase postoperative morbidity. Common mechanisms for this type of injury are not well-defined. The risk factors associated with an increase in missed IGITI during elective abdominal surgery and a possible strategy that may contribute to early diagnosis were not previously evaluated. Between 1998 and 2006, all the patients who underwent a subsequent laparotomy within 30 days of an index operation were identified. Patients reoperated for missed IGITI, defined as perforation at sites other than previous anastomosis or bowel repair, were collected. Data pertaining to patients, disease, and primary operations' characteristics, as well as reoperation findings and outcomes were studied. Methods of diagnosis of perforation for each particular patient were assessed. Thirty-two patients (15 females, 17 males) underwent a second operation for gastrointestinal tract leak within 30 days of an index surgery due to missed IGITI. The mean age was 59.5 ± 18.2 years (range 21‐87). The average time between the first and second operation was 5.3 ± 3.5 days (range 1‐13). Adhesions (27 patients), previous operations (20 patients), and laparoscopic approach (13 patients) were the most commonly documented factors that may result in missed IGITI. Diagnosis of gastrointestinal leak due to missed IGITI was made clinically in 12 patients. Twenty patients underwent contrast study before reoperation. Careful selection of patients and type of surgery in addition to awareness of this rare complication may decrease the frequency of missed IGITI, lead to earlier diagnosis, and possibly improve outcomes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Division of General Surgery B, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel 2: Department of General Surgery, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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