Diagnostic laparoscopy in abdominal stab wounds: a prospective, randomized study

Ari Leppäniemi, Reijo Haapiainen
Journal of Trauma 2003, 55 (4): 636-45

BACKGROUND: The optimal strategy for identifying patients with abdominal stab wounds requiring surgical repair has not been defined. The potential benefits of diagnostic laparoscopy by incorporating it into the routine diagnostic workup of patients with anterior abdominal stab wounds was evaluated in a two-layer, randomized study.

METHODS: From May 1997 through January 2002, stable patients without peritonitis but with demonstrated peritoneal violation were randomized (A) to exploratory laparotomy (AEL) (n = 23) or diagnostic laparoscopy (ADL) (n = 20). Simultaneously, patients with equivocal peritoneal violation on local wound exploration were randomized (B) to diagnostic laparoscopy (BDL) (n = 28) or expectant nonoperative management (BNOM) (n = 31). Hospital morbidity, length of stay, and costs were primary endpoints, with postdischarge disability being a secondary endpoint.

RESULTS: In patients with peritoneal penetration (AEL vs. ADL), there were minimal differences in the therapeutic operation rate (8 of 23 [AEL] vs. 8 of 20 [ADL], p = 0.761), mortality (none), morbidity (3 of 23 vs. 2 of 20, p = 0.999), hospital stay (mean +/- SD) (5.7 +/- 2.5 vs. 5.1 +/- 4.0 days, p = 0.049), hospital costs (4.6 +/- 1.3 vs. 4.8 +/- 1.9 x 1,000 EUR, p = 0.576), and length of sick leave (34 +/- 12 vs. 29 +/- 11 days, p = 0.305). In patients with equivocal peritoneal penetration (BDL vs. BNOM), laparoscopy found more mostly minor organ injuries (7 of 28 [BDL] vs. 1 of 31 [BNOM], p = 0.022) with no significant difference in therapeutic operations (3 of 28 vs. 1 of 31, p = 0.337) or morbidity (3 of 28 vs. 0 of 31, p = 0.101), but was associated with increased length of stay (2.6 +/- 2.1 vs. 1.9 +/- 1.8 days, p = 0.022), hospital costs (4.2 +/- 1.3 vs. 1.5 +/- 1.1 x 1,000 EUR, p = 0.000), and sick leave requirements (18 of 23 vs. 8 of 28 of eligible patients, p = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: In patients with demonstrated peritoneal violation, laparoscopy offers little benefit over exploratory laparotomy. In patients with equivocal peritoneal penetration on local wound exploration, laparoscopy detects more mostly minor organ injuries than expectant nonoperative management but is associated with increased hospital stay, costs, and sick leave requirements. Overall, diagnostic laparoscopy cannot be recommended as a routine diagnostic tool in anterolateral abdominal and thoracoabdominal stab wounds.

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