Immediate Postlaparotomy Small Bowel Obstruction: A 16-Year Retrospective Analysis

Fraser, Shannon A.; Shrier, Ian; Miller, George; Gordon, Philip H.
September 2002
American Surgeon;Sep2002, Vol. 68 Issue 9, p780
Academic Journal
Small bowel obstruction (SBO) is a particularly vexing problem in the postoperative period. The goal of this study was to compare the results of operative versus nonoperative treatment. A secondary goal was to explore risk factors for necessitating reoperation in the immediate postoperative period. We conducted a historical cohort retrospective chart review at a university-affiliated hospital. The medical records of patients treated between 1985 and 2000 at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) who developed SBO after undergoing a laparotomy during that admission were reviewed. Postoperative SBO was defined as cessation of flatus or bowel movements after their resumption following operation. To compare operative versus nonoperative management of early postoperative mechanical SBO we used the following outcome measures: Reoperation rate, time to return of function, length of stay, and mortality. Of 52 patients who developed SBO in the immediate postoperative period 37 were male, 25 had colorectal surgery, and nine had a gastrectomy as the initial operation on admission; five had inflammatory bowel disease, six had a previous SBO, 22 had virgin abdomens before the current operation, and 11 had adhesions noted at the initial operation. The median time to the development of obstructive symptoms was 8 days (range 1-33). The reoperation rate was 42 per cent overall (67% in women and 32% in men, P = 0.02). For operatively treated patients the median time between onset of symptoms and surgery was 5 days [range 1-23, interquartile range (IQR) = 5]. The median time to the return of bowel function was greater in the operatively treated patients compared with nonoperatively treated patients [11.5 days (range 4-37, IQR = 11) vs 6 days (range 1-28, IQR = 7), P < 0.0001] as was median length of stay from onset of obstruction [23 days (range 6-60, IQR = 14) vs 12 days (range 2-45, IQR = 16), P < 0.009]. Operatively treated patients also...


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