Early laparotomy and timely reconstruction for patients with abdominal electrical injury: Five Case Reports and Literature Review

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High-tension electricity can cause devastating injuries that may result in abdominal wall loss, visceral damage, and sometimes major threat to life. The visceral organ may be exposed after debridement and require flap cover, but the tensile strength of abdominal wall may be lack even if flap transplanted.


From April 2007 through May 2015, 5 patients with severe abdominal electrical injury were treated at our hospital. Exploratory laparotomy was performed based on their clinical manifestations and debridement findings of abdominal wall at early stage, and decision regarding technique for reconstruction of abdominal wall was based on an assessment of the location and extent of the defect. Medical records were reviewed for these data.


Clinical evaluation and debridement findings of the abdomen revealed 4 patients with suspicious visceral damage. Laparotomy was performed in 4 cases, and revealed obvious lesion in 3 cases, including segmental necrosis of small intestine, partial necrosis of diaphragm, left liver and gastric wall, and greater omentum. Five patients underwent abdominal wall reconstruction using island retrograde latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap or free/island composite anterolateral thigh myocutaneous flap. All flaps survived, abdominal bulging occurred in 3 cases after follow-up of 12 to 36 months.


The clinical manifestations and wound features of abdomen collectively suggest a possible requirement of laparotomy for severe abdominal electrical burns. Retrograde latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap or composite anterolateral thigh myocutaneous flap is an effective option for reconstruction of abdominal wall loss, the long-term complication of abdominal bulging, however, remains a significant clinical challenge.

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