Send to

Choose Destination
Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2019 Feb 22;4(1):e000269. doi: 10.1136/tsaco-2018-000269. eCollection 2019.

Emergency trauma laparotomy and/or thoracotomy in the emergency department: risks and benefits.

Author information

Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of Emergency Medicine, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.



It is not mandatory for Japanese trauma centers to have an operating room (OR) and OR team available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Therefore, emergency laparotomy/thoracotomy is performed in the emergency department (ED). The present study was conducted to assess the safety of this practice.


The data were reviewed from 88 patients who underwent emergency trauma laparotomy and/or thoracotomy performed by our acute care surgery group during the period from April 2013 to December 2017. Operation was performed in the ED for 43 of 88 patients (51%, ED group), and in the OR for 45 of 88 patients (49%, OR group). The perioperative outcomes of the two groups were compared.


Compared with the OR group, the ED group had a higher Injury Severity Score (30±15 vs. 13±10, p<0.01), greater incidence of blunt trauma (74% (32/43) vs. 36% (16/45), p<0.01), larger volume of red blood cell transfusion (18±18 units vs. 5±10 units, p<0.01), higher incidence of new-onset shock after sedation among patients who received sedation in the ED (59% (17/29) vs. 25% (6/24), p<0.01), and higher in-hospital mortality rate (49% (21/43) vs. 0, p<0.01). All five patients who underwent laparotomy followed by thoracotomy died in the ED; none of these patients underwent preoperative placement of resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA). Of the 21 patients in the ED group who died, 17 (81%) died immediately postoperatively; furthermore, 12 of the 22 patients who survived (55%) were not in shock prior to operation.


Emergency trauma laparotomy and/or thoracotomy outcomes were related to injury severity. The resources for trauma operations in the ED seemed suboptimal. The outcome of trauma operations may be improved by reviewing the protocols for anesthetic care, and by the usage of REBOA rather than aortic cross-clamping.

Level of evidence:



acute care surgery; laparotomy; thoracotomy; trauma/critical care

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BMJ Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center