The goal of conservative management (CM) of penetrating abdominal trauma is to avoid nontherapeutic laparotomies while identifying injuries early. Factors that may predict CM failure are not well established, and the experience of CM has not been well described in the Canadian context.Methods
We searched a Canadian level 1 trauma centre database for all penetrating abdominal traumas treated between 2004 and 2014. Hemodynamically stable patients without peritonitis and without clear indications for immediate surgery were considered potential candidates for CM, and were included in the study. We compared those who were managed with CM with those who underwent immediate operative management (OM). Outcomes included mortality and length of stay (LOS). Further analysis was performed to identify predictors of CM failure.Results
A total of 72 patients with penetrating abdominal trauma were classified as potential candidates for CM. Ten patients were managed with OM, and 62 with CM, with 9 (14.5%) ultimately failing CM and requiring laparotomy. The OM and CM groups were similar in terms of age, sex, injury severity, mechanism and number of injuries. There were no deaths in either group. The LOS in the intensive care (ICU)/trauma unit was 4.8 ± 3.2 days in the OM group and 2.9 ± 2.6 days in the CM group (p = 0.039). The only predictor for CM failure was intra-abdominal fluid on computed tomography (CT) scan (odds ratio 5.3, 95% confidence interval 1.01–28.19).Conclusion
In select patients with penetrating abdominal trauma, CM is safe and results in a reduced LOS in the ICU/trauma unit of 1.9 days. Fluid on CT scan is a predictor for failure.