Background: Colon injury has been associated with a high risk of septic complications and mortality. We prospectively studied the pattern, management, outcome, and prognostic factors in patients who sustained penetrating colon injuries.
Patients and methods: Sixty patients who presented to our hospital with penetrating colon injuries over a ten-year period (1992 to 2001) were studied.
Results: Colon wounds were caused by gunshots in 55 (91.7 percent) patients and knife stabs in 5 (8.3 percent). There was a delay of more than 12 hours before laparotomy in 30 (50 percent) patients. Moderate or major fecal contamination of the peritoneal cavity occurred in 58 (96.7 percent) patients. The average penetrating abdominal trauma index score was 25.9 and 20 (33.3 percent) patients sustained Flint Grade 3 colon injury. Associated intra-abdominal injuries occurred in the small bowel (73.3 percent), liver (25 percent), stomach (23.3 percent), and mesentery (16.7 percent). Right colon wounds (35) were managed by primary repair in 24 (68.6 percent) patients and proximal diverting colostomy in 11 (31.4 percent), whereas left colon wounds (25) were managed by diverting colostomy in 22 (88.0 percent) patients and primary repair in 3 (12.0 percent) patients. Common complications included wound infection (56.7 percent), septicemia (31.7 percent), and enterocutaneous fistula (16.7 percent). The overall mortality rate was 33.3 percent and colon injury-related mortality was 21.7 percent. Presence of destructive colon injury was associated with a greater than fourfold increased incidence of death. Other significant risk factors included shock on admission, major fecal contamination, duration of operation more than four hours, penetrating abdominal trauma index score >25, and more than two postoperative complications. There was no difference in outcome between patients who had primary repair and those undergoing diverting colostomy. Colostomy closure-related morbidity was 21 percent and mortality was 5.3 percent.
Conclusion: A more liberal use of primary repair is required in our patients with penetrating injuries of the colon.