Laparoscopic treatment of acute small bowel obstruction*
BACKGROUND: Symptoms of obstruction in the intestinal tract involve the small intestine in three quarters of cases and the large intestine in one-quarter. The most common causes of an acute small intestinal obstruction are postoperative adhesions (64.8%) and strangulated hernias (14.8%). The overall incidence of postoperative small bowel obstruction is 4.6%. Because it offers a conservative and targeted means of removing the obstruction, laparoscopy is increasingly used for acute small bowel obstruction. With proper selection of patients, the success rate is very high. This work presents the selection criteria, technique and results for a three-year period. METHODS: Twenty-one patients, 13 men and 8 women aged 28 to 69 years, underwent surgery between January 2008 and December 2010. Selection criteria for a laparoscopic procedure were anesthesia risk of not more than ASA 3, diameter of the dilatated loop of small intestine of not more than 5 cm, radiological image of a change in caliber as an indication of a focal passage disorder, exclusion of paralytic ileus, and no history of diffuse peritonitis. The patients underwent surgery in general anesthesia. The approach for the first trocar was umbilical in 18 cases and in the right or left flank in three cases, but always with open technique. Three trocars were always used. RESULTS: In 7 patients, there was an isolated band from a previous operation, usually an appendectomy; in 5 cases there were postoperative adhesions and a band. Three patients had a volvulus and in one of them, a 20 cm segment of the small intestine was already gangrenous. Two patients had an incarcerated hernia, one inguinal and one Bochdalek. Two patients had a stenosing tumor in the terminal ileum, one of which was a carcinoid and the other, the first manifestation of a lymphoma. One patient had an endometriosis focus as stenosis focus and another had a massively inflamed Meckel's diverticulum that obstructed passage in the small intestine. Two patients – the volvulus with small intestinal gangrene and the Bochdalek hernia – required conversion to open technique. One patient with diffuse adhesions and a band had to undergo open surgery 10 days later. There was no case of an intraoperative accidental intestinal injury. All the patients who underwent laparoscopy were discharged within a week. Hospitalization was significantly longer for the converted patients. The patient with the Boachdalek hernia died after 26 days of irreversible cardiopulmonary failure. CONCLUSIONS: With strict selection, laparoscopic treatment of small intestinal obstruction is a valuable option in visceral acute surgery. Patients with an isolated focal obstruction seem to benefit from laparoscopic surgery on the basis of reduced perioperative morbidity and short hospitalization.