Gastrointestinal tract perforation following blunt abdominal trauma: an institution’s experience
BACKGROUND Construction of gastrointestinal anastomoses by using stapling devices has become a familiar procedure. Most studies have shown no significant differences in complication rates between stapled and sutured anastomoses performed during elective surgery. To date, no study has evaluated the incidence of complications of stapled anastomoses in the trauma patient. The purpose of our study was to determine whether the incidence of postoperative complications differs between stapled and sutured anastomoses after the emergent repair of traumatic bowel injuries. METHODS A retrospective analysis of the medical and institutional trauma registry records of patients identified to have undergone a gastrointestinal anastomosis in a regional Level I trauma center over a 4-year period. RESULTS A total of 84 patients with 118 gastrointestinal anastomoses were identified. A surgical stapling device was used to create 58 separate anastomoses, whereas a hand-sutured method was used in 60 anastomoses. A complication was defined as an anastomotic leak verified at reoperation. The ratio of blunt versus penetrating injuries, mean abdominal Abbreviated Injury Scale score, and Injury Severity Score were similar in the two groups. Stapling and suturing techniques were evenly distributed between small and large bowel repairs. Mean intensive care unit length of stay was comparable in both cohorts. However, inpatient length of stay was longer in patients with solely a stapled anastomosis compared with sutured anastomoses. Four of the 58 stapled anastomoses and none of the 60 hand-sewn anastomoses resulted in a clinically significant leak requiring reoperation (relative risk = undefined; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-infinity; p = 0.037). Each anastomotic leak occurred in a separate individual. The only death occurred in the stapled cohort secondary to peritonitis and subsequent sepsis. CONCLUSION Anastomotic leaks seem to be associated with stapled bowel repairs compared with sutured anastomoses in the traumatically injured patient.