Damage control or definitive repair? a retrospective review of abdominal trauma at a major trauma center in South Africa

Weale, Ross ; Kong, Victor ; Buitendag, Johan ; Ras, Abraham ; Blodgett, Joanna ; Laing, Grant ; Bruce, John ; Bekker, Wanda ; Manchev, Vassil ; Clarke, Damian (2019-01-20)

CITATION: Weale, R., et al. 2019. Damage control or definitive repair? a retrospective review of abdominal trauma at a major trauma center in South Africa. Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open, 4(1):e000235, doi:10.1136/tsaco-2018-000235.

The original publication is available at https://tsaco.bmj.com

Article

Background: This study set out to review a large series of trauma laparotomies from a single center and to compare those requiring damage control surgery (DCS) with those who did not, and then to interrogate a number of anatomic and physiologic scoring systems to see which best predicted the need for DCS. Methods: All patients over the age of 15 years undergoing a laparotomy for trauma during the period from December 2012 to December 2017 were retrieved from the Hybrid Electronic Medical Registry (HEMR) at the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS), South Africa. They were divided into two cohorts, namely the DCS and non-DCS cohort, based on what was recorded in the operative note. These Methods All patients over the age of 15 years undergoing a laparotomy for trauma during the period from December 2012 to December 2017 were retrieved from the Hybrid Electronic Medical Registry (HEMR) at the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS), South Africa. They were divided into two cohorts, namely the DCS and non-DCS cohort, based on what was recorded in the operative note. These groups were then compared in terms of demographics and spectrum of injury, as well as clinical outcome. The following scores were worked out for each patient: Penetrating Abdominal Trauma Index (PATI), Injury Severity Score, Abbreviated Injury Scale-abdomen, and Abbreviated Injury Scale-chest. Results: A total of 562 patients were included, and 99 of these (18%) had a DCS procedure versus 463 (82%) non-DCS. The mechanism was penetrating trauma in 81% of cases (453 of 562). A large proportion of trauma victims were male (503 of 562, 90%), with a mean age of 29.5±10.8. An overall mortality rate of 32% was recorded for DCS versus 4% for non-DCS (p<0.001). In general patients requiring DCS had higher lactate, and were more acidotic, hypotensive, tachycardic, and tachypneic, with a lower base excess and lower bicarbonate, than patients not requiring DCS. The most significant organ injuries associated with DCS were liver and intra-abdominal vascular injury. The only organ injury consistently predictive across all models of the need for DCS was liver injury. Regression analysis showed that only the PATI score is significantly predictive of the need for DCS (p=0.044). A final multiple logistic regression model demonstrated a pH <7.2 to be the most predictive (p=0.001) of the need for DCS. Conclusion: DCS is indicated in a subset of severely injured trauma patients. A pH <7.2 is the best indicator of the need for DCS. Anatomic injuries in themselves are not predictive of the need for DCS.

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