Laparoscopy in the evaluation of penetrating thoracoabdominal trauma

Am Surg. 2003 Sep;69(9):788-91.


The evaluation of penetrating thoracoabdominal trauma for the presence of a diaphragmatic injury presents a diagnostic challenge to the trauma surgeon. The use of diagnostic laparoscopy (DL) in this setting was reviewed at a level-one trauma institution. Eighty patients (71 males, 9 females) with penetrating injuries to the thoracoabdominal region underwent DL to rule out injury to the diaphragm. Fifty-eight patients (72.5%) had a negative study and were spared a celiotomy. In the remaining 22 patients (27.5%), injury to the diaphragm was identified. This subset of patients underwent a mandatory celiotomy to rule out an associated intra-abdominal injury. Seventeen out of 22 (77.2%) patients had a positive exploration requiring surgical intervention, representing an associated intra-abdominal injury rate of 21.2 per cent. Intra-abdominal injuries requiring repair included small bowel, colon, spleen, liver, and stomach, in descending order. There were no missed injuries or deaths. One patient with a left diaphragmatic injury secondary to a stab wound developed a subdiaphragmatic abscess. Respiratory insufficiency secondary to atelectasis was the most common complication. Diagnostic laparoscopy is an essential and safe modality for the evaluation of diaphragmatic injuries in penetrating thoracoabdominal trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Abdominal Injuries / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diaphragm / injuries*
  • Diaphragm / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Thoracic Injuries / surgery
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / surgery