Colonic resection in the setting of damage control laparotomy: is delayed anastomosis safe?

Am Surg. 2007 Jun;73(6):606-9; discussion 609-10. doi: 10.1177/000313480707300613.


Based on a large body of literature concerning the subject, trauma surgeons are becoming more comfortable with anastomosis rather than stoma creation in patients with destructive colon injuries requiring resection. This literature was largely generated before the widespread acceptance of the importance of damage control laparotomy (DCL). Thus, when such injuries occur in patients initially left in colonic discontinuity after DCL, the question of anastomosis versus stoma becomes more difficult, and there are no data to guide management decisions. The goal of this report is to describe the results of our early experience with delayed anastomosis (DA) after destructive colon injury in the setting of DCL. We reviewed the records of patients with destructive colon injuries at our Level I trauma center over a 5.5-year period for demographics, injury characteristics, and outcome. Studied outcomes included anastomotic leak, intra-abdominal abscess, and colon injury-related death. The decision to proceed with DA was based on individual surgeon opinion at the time of re-exploration. From January 1, 2000 to July 31, 2006, 92 patients sustained colon injury, 55 of which required resection (31 blunt mechanism and 24 penetrating). Twenty-two resections occurred in the setting of DCL. Six of these patients underwent stoma creation and 11 underwent DA. Three died before reoperation, and two had an anastomosis created during the initial DCL. The remaining 33 resections occurred during initial definitive operation, and 21 underwent anastomosis, whereas 12 had a stoma created. Comparing the 11 patients undergoing DA with the 21 undergoing immediate anastomosis, the anastomotic leak rate (0% vs 5%), abscess rate (36% vs 24%), and colon related-death rate (9% vs 0%; all P > 0.05) were similar. Six patients undergoing DA had a right hemicolectomy with ileocolonic anastomosis, four had a segmental left colon resection, and one had a near total abdominal colectomy with ileosigmoid anastomosis. Delayed anastomosis of colon injuries after DCL is safe in selected patients and has a similar complication rate as resection and anastomosis performed during initial definitive operation. DA avoids stoma creation in some patients who are not candidates for anastomosis during initial DCL. To our knowledge, this represents the first reported series of DA after DCL, an area in which further work is needed to carefully define indications for the safe application of this concept.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Abscess / etiology
  • Adult
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods*
  • Colectomy
  • Colon / injuries
  • Colon / surgery*
  • Colon, Sigmoid / surgery
  • Colostomy
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ileum / surgery
  • Laparotomy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / surgery
  • Wounds, Penetrating / surgery