Acute chest syndrome after abdominal surgery in children with sickle cell disease: Is a laparoscopic approach better?

P W Wales, E Carver, M W Crawford, P C Kim
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2001, 36 (5): 718-21

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Acute chest syndrome (ACS) is the leading cause of hospitalization and death among patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Surgery is a risk factor for the development of ACS. It has been suggested that laparoscopic surgery could diminish the risk of sickle-related complications; therefore, more procedures may be encouraged in asymptomatic patients. The goal of the authors was to determine the incidence of postoperative ACS and assess for predisposing factors in all sickle cell patients undergoing abdominal surgery.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of all sickle cell patients receiving abdominal surgery (open and laparoscopic) between 1994 and 1998 was conducted. Data pertaining to demographics, perioperative clinical status, postoperative care, and outcome were collected and analyzed using Student's t test or chi(2) where appropriate.

RESULTS: Fifty-four children underwent 62 procedures (35 abdominal and 27 extracavitary). All abdominal cases were either cholecystectomy or splenectomy (22 laparoscopic and 13 open). ACS occurred in 7 of 62 (11.3%) overall, and all were in abdominal cases 7 of 35 (20%). ACS occurred in 5 of 22 (22.7%) laparoscopic cases and 2 of 13 (15.4%) open cases. Operating time was significantly longer in the laparoscopic group compared with open cases (P <.05). A higher percentage of patients who had ACS had at least 1 previous episode (71.4% v 39.3%; P value not significant) and a smaller percentage of ACS patients received a preoperative blood transfusion (14.3% v 32.1%; P value not significant). Postoperative hospitalization was prolonged if ACS occurred (9 +/- 2 v 3 +/- 2 days; P <.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Abdominal surgery carries a significantly high risk (20%) of ACS. Laparoscopy does not decrease the incidence of ACS compared with open approach. Predisposing factors were not significant in predicting postoperative ACS. There is considerable morbidity and potential cost implications in patients with ACS.

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