Thoracoscopic evaluation of the diaphragm in patients with knife wounds of the left lower chest
The role of thoracoscopy in assessing the status of the diaphragm in penetrating knife wounds of the left lower chest was studied prospectively in 55 patients. Those with positive thoracoscopic findings (n = 22) proceeded to exploratory laparotomy and those with an uninvolved diaphragm (n = 32) were observed. Thoracoscopy was inconclusive in one patient and two were lost to follow-up. With operative findings or 30-month follow up data as evaluation endpoints, thoracoscopy in 52 patients was 100 per cent sensitive, 90 per cent specific and 94 per cent accurate. A projected negative laparotomy rate of 63 per cent would have occurred with a policy of mandatory laparotomy; using thoracoscopy the actual rate was 6 per cent. Thoracoscopy is a safe and reliable method of evaluating the diaphragm in patients with left lower thoracic stab wounds.