Diagnosis of intra-abdominal injuries can be challenging in multitrauma patients with associated injuries. Our experience and review of the literature.

Il Giornale di chirurgia

PubMedID: 23463929

Kontopodis N, Kouraki A, Panagiotakis G, Miliadis O, Volakakis J, Spiridakis K. Diagnosis of intra-abdominal injuries can be challenging in multitrauma patients with associated injuries. Our experience and review of the literature. G Chir. 2013;34(1-2):27-31.
INTRODUCTION
Trauma is the most common cause of death and disability among patients during the first four decades of life. Abdominal trauma is reported to be the 3rd most common injured region. Clinical examination may be unreliable in the evaluation of these patients especially in the presence of associated injuries. Therefore the use of diagnostic tools is essential in the management of the injured patient with abdominal trauma and additional injuries.

PATIENTS AND METHODS
During 1 year period from December 2010 to November 2011 we recorded the patients that presented to the emergency department of our hospital and were found to suffer from intra-abdominal injuries. These patients were divided in two groups depending on whether they had additional comorbid injuries or not. Several parameters were recorded and compared between the two groups, such as mechanism of injury, general status and hemodynamic stability of the patient on presentation, physical examination, use of imaging modalities and concomitant findings, need for surgical intervention and mortality rates. Furthermore the discrepancy between physical findings and final diagnosis after the use of diagnostic adjuncts is reported.

RESULTS
We recorded 31 patients with abdominal trauma. 13 (42%) patients were found to suffer from abdominal trauma and associated injuries (Group I), whereas 18 (58%) presented with abdominal trauma alone (Group II). The patients of the first group presented hemodynamic instability in 38% of cases while the patients of the second in 22% of cases. Reduced consciousness was present in 38% in group I versus 17% in group II. Signs of abdominal injury during clinical examination were present in only 15% in group I versus 72% in group II that represented a remarkable difference between the two groups. Conservative treatment was possible in 15% of patients with additional injuries and in 22% of patients with abdominal injury alone. In group I there were two deaths whereas in group II all patients survived.

CONCLUSION
In patients with abdominal trauma, associated injuries seem to add to the severity of injury and indicate a worse prognosis. Clinical examination is unreliable and misleading in the majority of these patients and the use of diagnostic tools cannot be overemphasized.