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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
SG: Study design, collected and extracted data, performed statistical analysis, generated illustrations, drafted the manuscript and interpreted the data, co-wrote and critically reviewed the manuscript. CG: Study design, drafted the manuscript and interpreted the data, co-wrote and critically reviewed the manuscript. TE: Performed the VLAD analyses, revised all statistics, co-wrote and critically reviewed the manuscript. NOS: Extracted data from the OUH Trauma Registry, performed the W-statistics analyses, co-wrote and critically reviewed the manuscript. PAN: Study design, drafted the manuscript and interpreted the data, co-wrote and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Damage control surgery and damage control resuscitation have reduced mortality in patients with severe abdominal injuries. The shift towards non-operative management in haemodynamically stable patients suffering blunt abdominal trauma has further contributed to the improved results. However, in many countries, low volume of trauma cases and limited exposure to trauma laparotomies constitute a threat to trauma competence. The aim of this study was to evaluate the institutional patient volume and performance for patients with abdominal injuries over an eight-year period.
Data from 955 consecutive trauma patients admitted in Oslo University Hospital Ulleval with abdominal injuries during the eight-year period 2002-2009 were retrospectively explored. A separate analysis was performed on all trauma patients undergoing laparotomy during the same period, whether abdominal injuries were identified or not. Variable life-adjusted display (VLAD) was used in order to describe risk-adjusted survival trends throughout the period and the patients admitted before (Period 1) and after (Period 2) the institution of a formal Trauma Service (2005) were compared.
There was a steady increase in admitted patients with abdominal injuries, while the number of patients undergoing laparotomy was constant exposing the surgical trauma team leaders to an average of 8 trauma laparotomies per year. No increase in missed injuries or failures of non-operative management was detected. Unadjusted mortality rates decreased from period 1 to period 2 for all patients with abdominal injuries as well as for the patients undergoing laparotomy. However, this apparent decrease was not confirmed as significant in TRISS-based analysis of risk-adjusted mortality. VLAD demonstrated a steady performance throughout the study period.
Even in a high volume trauma center the exposure to abdominal injuries and trauma laparotomies is limited. Due to increasing NOM, an increasing number of patients with abdominal injuries was not accompanied by an increase in number of laparotomies. However, we have demonstrated a stable performance throughout the study period as visualized by VLAD without an increase in missed injuries or failures of NOM.