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Bedside diagnostic laparoscopy in the intensive care unit: a 13-year experience.

BACKGROUND: Frequently, critically ill patients suffer from intraabdominal pathology, such as sepsis or ischemia, either as a cause of a critical illness or as a complication from another illness requiring an intensive care unit (ICU) admission. These complications are associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality (between 50% to 100%). The diagnosis of these problems can be difficult in these very ill patients because it may require transport of unstable patients to additional departments outside the ICU setting. One option in the diagnosis of these difficult patients is bedside laparoscopy, as it avoids patient transport, is very accurate, and maintains ICU monitoring.

METHODS: From 1991 to 2003, 13 patients underwent bedside diagnostic laparoscopy in the ICU to diagnose intraabdominal pathology in critically ill patients. All the procedures were done at the bedside in the ICU with the patient under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation.

RESULTS: Mean procedure time was 36 minutes (range, 17 to 55). Mean patient age was 75.5 years (range, 56 to 86). There were 8 males and 5 females. Forty-six percent of the patients were diagnosed with mesenteric necrosis and died within 48 hours with no further testing or procedures. One patient with massive fecal contamination died the same day. Thirty percent of patients had a normal intraabdominal examination; of these, 2 died of unrelated illnesses and 2 survived their nonabdominal illness. Fifteen percent were diagnosed with acute acalculous cholecystitis as a complication of their ICU illness, which resolved satisfactorily. No intraoperative complications occurred with the ICU procedure.

CONCLUSION: Bedside diagnostic laparoscopy in the ICU is feasible, safe, and accurate in the assessment of possible intraabdominal problems in properly selected, critically ill patients.

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