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Use of computed tomography in the initial evaluation of anterior abdominal stab wounds.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to assess the ability of computed tomography (CT) to facilitate initial management decisions in patients with anterior abdominal stab wounds.

METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted of patients with anterior abdominal stab wounds who underwent CT over 4.5 years. Any abnormality suspicious for intra-abdominal injury was considered a positive finding on CT.

RESULTS: Ninety-eight patients met the study's inclusion criteria. Positive findings on CT were noted in 30 patients (31%), leading to operative intervention in 67%. Injuries were confirmed in 95% of cases, but only 70% were therapeutic. Ten patients had nonoperative management despite positive findings on CT, including 5 patients with solid organ injuries. One patient underwent operative intervention for clinical deterioration, with negative findings. No computed tomographic evidence of injury was noted in the remaining 68 patients (69%), but 1 patient was noted to have a splenic injury while undergoing operative evaluation of the diaphragm. All remaining patients were treated nonoperatively with success.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with anterior abdominal stab wounds, CT should be considered to facilitate initial management decisions, as it has the ability to delineate abnormalities suspicious for injury.

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