Laparoscopic management of acute small bowel obstruction: Evaluating the need for resection

Kevin N. Johnson, Alyssa B. Chapital, Kristi L. Harold, Marianne V. Merritt, Daniel J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Acute small bowel obstruction (SBO) is a common condition encountered by the on-call emergency surgeon. The role of laparoscopy in the management of SBO continues to be defined. This modality can be limited by dilated bowel and inadequate assessment of compromised tissue. This review was undertaken to determine the reliability of laparoscopic evaluation and the subsequent need for bowel resection. METHODS: A retrospective review of all patients surgically managed for acute SBO between July 2005 and September 2010 was conducted. The clinical presentation, computed tomographic findings, indications for surgery, type of intervention, need for reoperation, length of stay (LOS), and outcomes were all abstracted. RESULTS: A total of 119 patients were surgically managed for acute SBO during this period, 63 with initial laparoscopy and 56 with an open procedure. Twenty-five (40%) of the laparoscopy patients were converted to open, leaving 38 completed laparoscopically. Of the completed group, three patients underwent bowel resection compared with 16 in the converted group (8%vs. 64%, p < 0.0001). No patients in the completed group required a subsequent procedure for bowel resection. Twenty-three (41%) patients in the open cohort required a resection. LOS was significantly reduced in the completed group (7.7 days) compared with the converted (11.0 days, p = 0.01) and open groups (11.4 days, p = 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: Overall, 32%of acute SBOs were managed solely with laparoscopy. No patients requiring a bowel resection were missed using this method of evaluation. Laparoscopic management should be considered as safe and effective initial therapy in most cases of acute SBO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Small bowel obstruction; laparoscopy; bowel resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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