The role of laparoscopy in penetrating abdominal stab wounds
The role of diagnostic laparoscopy (DL) in abdominal stab wounds (ASWs) is not clearly defined. We hypothesized that peritoneal penetration (PP) during DL was a valid indication to convert to an exploratory laparotomy (EL). Retrospective review of hemodynamically stable ASWs requiring operation. A total of 161 patients with ASWs were identified, with 36 of 92 patients (39.1%) undergoing DL converted to EL. All 36 patients had PP; 20 of 36 (55.6%) ELs were therapeutic (TL). The number of nontherapeutic laparotomies (NTLs) prevented was 56 (60.9%). Five of 92 patients had PP on DL but did not undergo EL. Twenty-four of 69 patients who underwent initial EL had an NTL (34.8%). If this group had undergone an initial DL, and PP was used to determine need for EL, the number of NTLs would have been reduced to 10 (14.5%), a 58.3% reduction. Evidence of PP during DL is a reasonable indicator to determine the need for EL and reduce the number of NTLs.