Purpose: The objective of this study is to quantify the overall burden (operative and nonoperative) of small bowel obstruction caused by adhesions after laparotomy in children.
Methods: Data from the Scottish National Health Service Medical Record Linkage database were used to assess risk of an adhesion-related readmission in the 5 years after open abdominal surgery in children and adolescents younger than 16 years from April 1996 to March 1997.
Results: A total of 1581 children underwent abdominal surgery (ie, from duodenum downward). Patients undergoing surgery on the ileum had the highest risk of readmission because of adhesions in the subsequent 5 years after surgery (9.2%)--formation/closure of ileostomy had the greatest risk (25%); 6.5% of children were readmitted after general laparotomy, 4.7% after duodenal surgery, and 2.1% after colonic surgery. The incidence of readmissions was 0.3% after appendicectomy. The overall readmission rate was 5.3% (if appendicectomy was excluded) and 1.1% (if appendicectomy was included).
Conclusion: This population-based study has demonstrated that children have a high incidence of readmissions owing to adhesions after lower abdominal surgery. The risks are related to the site and the type of the original surgery. The risk of further readmissions was highest in the first year but continued with time. The data enable surgeons to target antiadhesion strategies at procedures that lead to a high risk of adhesions.