Background: Damage-control laparotomy (DCL) is a lifesaving technique but carries significant morbidity. If DCL is over used and the factors that predict early fascial closure have not been fully evaluated. The purpose of the current study was to determine (1) the current rate of DCL, (2) the percentage of DCLs that are closed at first take-back, and (3) possible physiologic and resuscitative parameters predicting early fascial closure.
Methods: A retrospective review of all trauma laparotomies from a Level I trauma center between January 2004 and December 2008 was performed. Patients were excluded if they died before first take-back. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.
Results: Nine hundred thirty patients were eligible, 278 (30%) underwent DCL, 36 excluded for death before first take-back. Of the remaining 242 DCL patients, 83 (34%) were closed at first take-back and 159 (66%) were not closed at first take-back. These two groups were similar in injury severity, demographics, and prehospital and emergency department fluids and vitals. Median emergency department international normalized ratio (INR; 1.13 vs. 1.29, p = 0.010), post-op INR (1.4 vs. 1.5, p = 0.028), 24-hour fluids (11.9 L vs. 15.5 L, p = 0.006), peak post-op intra-abdominal pressure (IAP; 15 vs. 18, p < 0.001), and mortality (1.2% vs. 8.2%, p = 0.027) were different between groups. Multivariate analysis noted vacuum-assisted closure at initial laparotomy (Odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.42-6.63; p = 0.004) was an independent predictor of closure at first take-back. However, post-op INR (Odds ratio, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.03-0.97; p = 0.04) and post-op peak IAP (Odds ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.95; p = 0.005) predicted failure to close fascia at first take-back.
Conclusion: In similarly injured DCL patients, increased post-op INR and IAP predicted inability to achieve primary fascial closure on first take-back, while use of the vacuum-assisted closure was associated with increased likelihood of early fascial closure. At a busy academic Level I trauma center, the current rate of DCL among those undergoing emergent laparotomy is 30%. Whether this represents optimal use or overutilization of this technique still needs to be determined.