, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 114-118
Date: 14 Feb 2014

Operative Management of Civilian Rectal Gunshot Wounds: Simpler Is Better

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Extraperitoneal rectal gunshot wounds have been managed with a variety of methods from simple diverting colostomy to combinations of rectal repair, proximal diversion, transperitoneal or presacral drainage, and distal bowel irrigation techniques. Treatment methodology is chosen based on anecdotal experience, and there is no clear evidence that any technique is superior to the others. The objective of this study was to compare 3 methods of managing civilian extraperitoneal gunshot wounds. Retrospective analysis of 30 consecutive patients with extraperitoneal rectal gunshot wounds was undertaken. Patients were treated with 1 of these 3 techniques: (1) simple diverting colostomy without rectal repair (group A, 12 patients); (2) diverting colostomy and rectal repair (group B, 12 patients); and (3) diverting colostomy and presacral drainage without repair (group C, 6 patients). Injury, hospital course, and outcome data were compared. The 3 groups were similar in age, injury severity, admission hemodynamics, preoperative and intraoperative time, blood loss, fecal contamination, and associated injuries. The overall incidence of complications was 27% (8/27): 25% (3/12) in group A, 33% (4/12) in group B, and 17% (1/6) in group C (p= NS). Complications directly associated with the rectal injury were found in 2 cases (7%): 1 group A patient developed a vesicorectal fistula and 1 group B patient developed a rectocutaneous fistula. For 10 patients with both rectal and bladder injuries, the complication rates for groups A, B, and C were 50%, 20%, and 0%, respectively (p= NS). No patient died. In conclusion, diverting colostomy without rectal repair or drainage appears to be safe for the management of most civilian retroperitoneal rectal gunshot wounds. Additional surgical maneuvers may be required for combined rectal and urinary trauma or other complex rectal injuries. Sound surgical principles, tailored to the individual case, should overrule any unproven dogmas.