The morbidity and financial impact of colostomy closure in trauma patients

J Trauma. 1990 Dec;30(12):1510-3. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199012000-00012.


During a 10-year period, 87 patients who had undergone elective colostomy closure at Bellevue Hospital were retrospectively reviewed in order to evaluate the morbidity of colostomy closure after traumatic injury and its financial impact. Sixty-two per cent of the colostomies were in the left colon and 38% were right sided. The interval from the original injury to colostomy takedown varied from 20 to 465 days, with a mean of 144 days. The mean postoperative hospital stay for the entire group was 15.13 days at a cost of $13,995. There were no deaths and no anastomotic leaks in the entire series, but a morbidity rate of 25% ensued. Small bowel obstruction was the most frequent significant complication, occurring in ten patients (11.5%) and resulting in a prolongation of hospital stay by 7 days at an additional cost of $6,500 per patient. One additional patient developed a subphrenic abscess which required operative drainage, necessitating an additional 24 days in the hospital at an increased cost of $22,200. Other complications which did not prolong hospital stay included eight superficial wound infections, one transient respiratory failure, and two patients who returned at a later date with incisional hernias at the stoma site. The 25% morbidity encountered in this series suggests that colostomy closure is not a low-morbidity procedure and should be considered as an important factor favoring primary repair. Coupled with the significant financial impact of both colostomy formation and takedown, ample justification exists for greater efforts in avoiding colostomy formation whenever feasible.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colon / injuries*
  • Colon / surgery
  • Colostomy / adverse effects
  • Colostomy / economics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Reoperation / adverse effects
  • Reoperation / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States