Abdominal trauma in Durban, South Africa: factors influencing outcome
Abdominal injury as a result of both blunt and penetrating trauma has an appreciable mortality rate from hemorrhage and sepsis. In this article, we present our experience with the management of abdominal trauma in Durban and investigate factors that influence outcome. We performed a prospective study of patients with abdominal trauma in one surgical ward at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban over a period of 7 years, from 1998 through 2004. Demographic details, cause of injury, delay before surgery, clinical presentation, findings at surgery, management and outcome were documented. There were 488 patients with abdominal trauma with a mean age of 29.2 ± 10.7 years. There were 440 penetrating injuries (240 firearm wounds; 200 stab wounds) and 48 blunt injuries. The mean delay before surgery was 11.7 ± 16.4 hours, and 55 patients (11%) presented in shock. Four hundred and forty patients underwent laparotomy, and 48 were managed nonoperatively. The Injury Severity Score was 11.1 ± 6.7, and the New Injury Severity Score was 17.1 ± 11.1. One hundred and thirty-seven patients (28%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), with a mean ICU stay of 3.6 ± 5.5 days. One hundred and thirty-two patients developed complications (28%), and 52 (11%) died. Shock, acidosis, increased transfusion requirements, number of organs injured, and injury severity were all associated with higher mortality. Delay before surgery had no influence on outcome. Hospital stay was 9.2 ± 10.8 days. The majority of abdominal injuries in our environment are due to firearms. Physiological instability, mechanism of injury, severity of injury, and the number of organs injured influence outcome.