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Effect of damage control laparotomy on major abdominal complications and lengths of stay: A propensity score matching and Bayesian analysis

John A Harvin, John P Sharpe, Martin A Croce, Michael D Goodman, Timothy A Pritts, Elizabeth D Dauer, Benjamin J Moran, Rachel D Rodriguez, Ben L Zarzaur, Laura A Kreiner, Jeffrey A Claridge, John B Holcomb
Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 2019, 87 (2): 282-288

BACKGROUND: In patients for whom surgical equipoise exists for damage control laparotomy (DCL) and definitive laparotomy (DEF), the effect of DCL and its associated resource utilization are unknown. We hypothesized that DEF would be associated with fewer abdominal complications and less resource utilization.

METHODS: In 2016, six US Level I trauma centers performed a yearlong, prospective, quality improvement project with the primary aim to safely decrease the use of DCL. From this cohort of patients undergoing emergent trauma laparotomy, those who underwent DCL but were judged by majority faculty vote at each center to have been candidates for potential DEF (pDEF) were prospectively identified. These pDEF patients were matched 1:1 using propensity scoring to the DEF patients. The primary outcome was the incidence of major abdominal complications (MAC). Deaths within 5 days were excluded. Outcomes were assessed using both Bayesian generalized linear modeling and negative binomial regression.

RESULTS: Eight hundred seventy-two total patients were enrolled, 639 (73%) DEF and 209 (24%) DCL. Of the 209 DCLs, 44 survived 5 days and were judged to be patients who could have safely been closed at the primary laparotomy. Thirty-nine pDEF patients were matched to 39 DEF patients. There were no differences in demographics, mechanism of injury, Injury Severity Score, prehospital/emergency department/operating room vital signs, laboratory values, resuscitation, or procedures performed during laparotomy. There was no difference in MAC between the two groups (31% DEF vs. 21% pDEF, relative risk 0.99, 95% credible interval 0.60-1.54, posterior probability 56%). Definitive laparotomy was associated with a 72%, 77%, and 72% posterior probability of more hospital-free, intensive care unit-free, and ventilator-free days, respectively.

CONCLUSION: In patients for whom surgeons have equipoise for DCL versus definitive surgery, definitive abdominal closure was associated with a similar probability of MAC, but a high probability of fewer hospital-free, intensive care unit-free, and ventilator-free days.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic/care management, level III.

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