Introduction: The vertical transumbilical incision (TU) technique during neonatal abdominal exploration involves dissection and ligation of umbilical vessels, which allow access to all quadrants of the abdomen and complete bowel evisceration with minimal violation to the anterior abdominal wall. We compared patient characteristics and outcomes for neonates undergoing TU with standard transverse exploration.
Materials and methods: A single-center retrospective review of neonates who underwent abdominal exploration between January 2010 and September 2015 was conducted after obtaining Institutional Review Board approval. Data included patient demographics, indication for operative intervention, operative details, complications, including incisional hernias, and long-term outcomes.
Results: There were 88 neonates under 4 months of age who underwent abdominal exploration, with a median age of 5.5 ± 17 days and a median gestational age of 32.8 ± 16 weeks. Exploration was emergent in 38 patients (43%) and 49 (56%) required ostomy formation. A transverse incision (TV) was used in 30 patients and a TU in 58 patients. Both groups had similar postoperative complication rates; 27 (47%) in the TU group and 11 (36%) in the TV group, P = .51. Median length of follow-up in the TU group was 5.1 ± 18 months and 6.2 ± 16 months in the TV group, P = .48. The TU group had 4 incisional/umbilical hernias (7%), none have required repair.
Conclusion: TUs for abdominal explorations in neonates have similar outcomes as the standard TV while preserving the integrity of the anterior abdominal wall.
Keywords: neonatal abdominal exploration; neonatal laparotomy; trans-umbilical incision.