Outcomes of damage control laparotomy with open abdomen management in the octogenarian population

J Trauma. 2011 Mar;70(3):616-21. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31820d19ed.


Background: Controversy surrounds the role of abbreviated laparotomy and open abdomen (OA) in the octogenarian population in the acute care surgery model based on concern that the initial insult, combined with its sequelae, is beyond the physiologic reserve of these patients. As the population ages further, this dilemma will arise more frequently, requiring the analysis of futility or utility of OA in this demographic.

Methods: The institutional review board approval was obtained to analyze retrospectively patients aged 80 years or older with OA from 1997 to 2009. Univariate, multivariate, and Kaplan-Meier analyses were used to evaluate the effects that demographics, comorbidities, and clinical factors had on in-hospital mortality and overall survival.

Results: Sixty-seven patients (32 men and 35 women) were identified. Acute general surgery (including vascular procedures) was the most common indication for laparotomy (94%) with trauma a distant second (6%). Early definitive closure was obtained in 52% of patients with a 34% planned ventral hernia rate. Overall complication rate was 62% and overall in-hospital mortality was 37%. Multivariate analysis revealed congestive heart failure (odds ratio, 11.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-128.03) and acute renal failure (odds ratio, 11.8; 95% confidence interval, 2.00-69.12) correlated with in-hospital mortality. Of those surviving to hospital dismissal, 2-year survival was 66% with a 17-month median follow-up (range, 1-125 months).

Conclusion: There is utility in octogenarians undergoing aggressive surgical management that requires OA. These patients have high mortality rates, but long-term survival can be better than their peers with other chronic diseases if they survive the surgical insult. Patient selection should be based on preexisting comorbidities such as congestive heart failure and the development of acute renal failure. Despite the adequate long-term survival, most patients will leave the hospital with a hernia.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery*
  • Abdominal Injuries / surgery
  • Acute Kidney Injury / complications
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Laparotomy / methods*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome