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Emerg Med Clin North Am. 1989 Aug;7(3):647-66.

Penetrating abdominal trauma.

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School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.


The management of patients with penetrating abdominal trauma is outlined in Figure 1. Patients with hemodynamic instability, evisceration, significant gastrointestinal bleeding, peritoneal signs, gunshot wounds with peritoneal violation, and type 2 and 3 shotgun wounds should undergo emergency laparotomy. The initial ED management of these patients includes airway management, monitoring of cardiac rhythm and vital signs, history, physical examination, and placement of intravenous lines. Blood should be obtained for initial hematocrit, type and cross-matching, electrolytes, and an alcohol level or drug screen as needed. Initial resuscitation should utilize crystalloid fluid replacement. If more than 2 liters of crystalloid are needed to stabilize an adult (less in a child), blood should be given. Group O Rh-negative packed red blood cells should be immediately available for a patient in impending arrest or massive hemorrhage. Type-specific blood should be available within 15 minutes. A patient with penetrating thoracic and high abdominal trauma should receive a portable chest x-ray, and a hemo- or pneumothorax should be treated with tube thoracostomy. An unstable patient with clinical signs consistent with a pneumothorax, however, should receive a tube thoracostomy prior to obtaining roentgenographic confirmation. If time permits, a nasogastric tube and Foley catheter should be placed, and the urine evaluated for blood (these procedures can be performed in the operating room). If kidney involvement is suspected because of hematuria or penetrating trauma in the area of a kidney or ureter in a patient requiring surgery, a single-shot IVP should be performed either in the ED or the operating room. An ECG is important in patients with possible cardiac involvement and in patients over the age of 40 going to the operating room. Tetanus status should be updated, and appropriate antibiotics covering bowel flora should be given. Operative management should rarely be delayed by procedures in the ED. Only lifesaving procedures necessary to prevent further deterioration should temporarily delay sending a patient to a waiting surgical team. Stable patients can be further evaluated in the ED. Those with stab wounds to the abdomen, flank, and selected cases of back injuries should undergo LWE. Those with negative LWE can be discharged after appropriate wound care and patient education. Patients with equivocal or positive LWE should undergo DPL. Patients with tangential gunshot wounds and possible type 2 shotgun injuries can undergo DPL. Table 8 lists the recommended thresholds for DPL. Patients with positive DPL should undergo exploration.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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