Selective non-operative management of abdominal stab wounds is a safe and cost effective strategy: A South African experience

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Selective non-operative management (SNOM) of abdominal stab wounds is well established in South Africa. SNOM reduces the morbidity associated with negative laparotomies while being safe. Despite steady advances in technology (including laparoscopy, computed tomography [CT] and point-of-care sonography), our approach has remained clinically driven. Assessments of financial implications are limited in the literature. The aim of this study was to review isolated penetrating abdominal trauma and analyse associated incurred expenses.

METHODS

Patients data across the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service (PMTS) are captured prospectively into the regional electronic trauma registry. A bottom-up microcosting technique produced estimated average costs for our defined clinical protocols.

RESULTS

Between January 2012 and April 2015, 501 patients were treated for an isolated abdominal stab wound. Over one third (38%) were managed successfully with SNOM, 5% underwent a negative laparotomy and over half (57%) required a therapeutic laparotomy. Over five years, the PMTS can expect to spend a minimum of ZAR 20,479,800 (GBP 1,246,840) for isolated penetrating abdominal stab wounds alone.

CONCLUSIONS

Provided a stringent policy is followed, in carefully selected patients, SNOM is effective in detecting those who require further intervention. It minimises the risks associated with unnecessary surgical interventions. SNOM will continue to be clinically driven and promulgated in our environment.

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