Large bowel perforations in war surgery: one-stage treatment in a field hospital

Int J Colorectal Dis. 1993 Dec;8(4):213-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00290309.


Over a period of 14 months between 1990 and 1992, 73 Afghan war wounded with penetrating colon injuries were admitted and treated by a single surgical team in a field hospital of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). There were 67 males and 6 females, with a mean age of 23 years (range 6 to 80 years). Fifty six (77%) patients had multiple associated injuries; admission was delayed longer than 12 hours in 39 (44%); hypotension or deep shock was present at admission in 34 (47%) and 12 (16%) respectively. At laparotomy faecal contamination was limited to one quadrant in 58 (79.5%) cases and major in 15 (20.5%). Fifty-two (71.2%) patients underwent resection and primary anastomosis and 21 (28.8%) primary repair. Exteriorisation or diverting colostomy were never used. Four (5.5%) patients died and 11 (15%) had postoperative complications. Overall failure rate was 2.7%, including one faecal fistula conservatively treated and one colostomy raised as a precaution in a patient undergoing relaparotomy for intra-abdominal abscess. No primary repair leaked Deaths were significantly related to delay in admission and age, but not to surgical treatment. One stage primary treatment of large bowel injuries from penetrating abdominal wounds has low mortality, failure and colostomy rates suggesting its wider use regardless of risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghanistan
  • Blast Injuries / etiology
  • Blast Injuries / mortality
  • Blast Injuries / surgery*
  • Colon / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Perforation / etiology
  • Intestinal Perforation / mortality
  • Intestinal Perforation / surgery*
  • Male
  • Mobile Health Units
  • Red Cross
  • Warfare*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / etiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery*