Abbreviated laparotomy or damage control laparotomy: Why, when and how to do it?


Summary The goal of abbreviated laparotomy is to treat severely injured patients whose condition requires an immediate surgical operation but for whom a prolonged procedure would worsen physiological impairment and metabolic failure. Indeed, in severely injured patients, blood loss and tissue injuries enhance the onset of the ‘‘bloody vicious circle’’, triggered by the triad of acidosis-hypothermia-coagulopathy. Abbreviated laparotomy is a surgical strategy that forgoes the completeness of operation in favor of a physiological approach, the overriding preference going to rapidity and limiting the procedure to control the injuries. Management is based on sequential association of the shortest possible preoperative resuscitation with surgery limited to essential steps to control injury (stop the bleeding and contamination), without definitive repair. The latter will be ensured during a scheduled re-operation after a period of resuscitation aiming to correct physiological abnormalities induced by the trauma and its treatment. This strategy necessitates a pre-defined plan and involvement of the entire medical and nursing staff to reduce time loss to a strict minimum.

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