LIMITED ROLE OF BARIUM ENEMA EXAMINATION PRECEDING COLOSTOMY CLOSURE IN TRAUMA PATIENTS

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Abstract

Whether trauma patients should undergo barium enema (BE) examination of the colon prior to colostomy closure has recently been questioned. To ascertain the utility of BE and its impact on postoperative course in this patient population, we reviewed 86 trauma patients who underwent colostomy closure during a 12-year period at our institution. There were 82 males and four females with an average age of 28 years. Ninety-five percent of the injuries were the result of penetrating trauma. Sixteen patients had rectal injuries. Fifteen of these had BE greater than 6 weeks post-trauma and all showed healing of the injury. Of the 70 patients with colonic injuries, 43 (group 1) had BE prior to colostomy closure. Ninety-eight percent (n = 42) of these studies were negative. The only positive finding did not affect the planned surgical procedure. Group 2 (n = 27) did not have a BE prior to colostomy closure. Overall complication rates were not significantly different between group 1 (18.6%) and group 2 (29.6%). We conclude that BE prior to colostomy closure for colonic injuries yields little useful information and does not affect the morbidity rate prior to colostomy closure. Its routine usage should be abandoned. The role of barium enema in assessing rectal injury status is less clear because of the small number in our series, but probably offers no advantage over proctoscopy.

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