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Early Postoperative Small Bowel Obstruction After Appendectomy Because of Staples in Pediatric Patients.

BACKGROUND: Postoperative small bowel obstruction (SBO) is an important complication of laparoscopic appendectomy in children, resulting in readmission and potential for intestinal loss. We reviewed our experience with early postoperative SBO.

METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of patients undergoing an appendectomy with subsequent SBO from 2014 to 2018. Patients were excluded if a concurrent gastrointestinal procedure was done during the appendectomy, or if they had previous abdominal surgery.

RESULTS: Of 793 appendectomies performed at our institution during the study period, only six patients met the inclusion criteria for our chart review (7.6 SBO per 1000 appendectomies), ranging in age from 4 to 19 y. Four patients had uncomplicated appendicitis, and all underwent laparoscopic appendectomy within 24 h. Five were discharged postoperatively, with one patient remaining hospitalized for persistent ileus. Median time to representation with SBO was 7 d (range, 2-37). Three patients had indications for urgent exploration and underwent re-exploration shortly after presentation. Three patients underwent initial nonoperative management, but subsequently, all patients failed to progress and required operative exploration. Staples were found to be the culprit lesion in four of six patients, all of which notably initially presented with uncomplicated appendicitis, with two patients found to have ischemic bowel at the time of exploration.

CONCLUSIONS: Although rare, pediatric patients with SBO soon after laparoscopic appendectomy should be considered for early operative management, especially if the appendicitis was uncomplicated. When staples are used for appendectomy, stray staples should not be left as they can serve as a nidus for obstruction.

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