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Comparative outcome analysis of trauma and non-trauma emergency laparotomy using a modified NELA tool format

R Naidoo
MP Faurie
GV Oosthuizen
TC Hardcastle


Background: Emergency laparotomy (EL) encompasses a diverse range of procedures that general surgeons commonly perform for both trauma and non-trauma related conditions in South Africa (SA). Despite differences in the underlying pathology and influence of the surgical procedure, these patients share one care pathway for preoperative, operative and postoperative care. This study reviewed patients undergoing trauma EL and non-trauma EL in a general surgery setting at a rural KwaZulu-Natal tertiary hospital to compare results between the groups using a modified National Emergency Laparotomy Audit (NELA) tool format.
Methods: Consecutive adult patients undergoing midline EL at Ngwelezana Hospital between 1 March and 31 May 2018 were included. Patient factors analysed were demographic data (age, gender) and risk factors: National Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths (NCEPOD) grade, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grade, and comorbidity. Process of care factors included grade of the physician, time to surgery, time of surgery and duration of surgery. The primary outcome measure was mortality. Secondary outcome measures were intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, complications, and length of stay (LOS) > 14 days.
Results: The study included 110 participants who met the inclusion criteria representing a total of 174 laparotomies. The trauma EL group had lower ASA grades (p = 0.003), less comorbidities (p = 0.002), more often went to theatre within six hours (42/56; 75.0%) (p < 0.001), more admissions to ICU (23/56; 41.1%) (p < 0.001), more complications (29/56; 51.8%) (p = 0.039), and higher length of stay > 14 days (16/56; 28.6%) (p = 0.037).
Conclusion: The trauma EL group represents a high-risk group for morbidity and mortality at Ngwelezana Hospital.

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eISSN: 2078-5151
print ISSN: 0038-2361