Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 288–297 | Cite as

Early Versus Late Adhesiolysis for Adhesive-Related Intestinal Obstruction: A Nationwide Analysis of Inpatient Outcomes

  • Daniel I. Chu
  • Melanie L. Gainsbury
  • Lauren A. Howard
  • Arthur F. Stucchi
  • James M. Becker
2012 SSAT Poster Presentation



Classical teaching advocates watchful waiting for 2 days before operating on adhesive-related intestinal obstructions (AIOs). Our aim was to compare the clinical and cost outcomes of early versus late adhesiolysis for AIOs.


Patients undergoing adhesiolysis for AIOs from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample were stratified to early (≤2 days from admission) vs. late (>2 days) adhesiolysis. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality and secondary outcomes were post-operative complications (POCs), post-operative length of stay (PLOS), and in-hospital cost.


From 5,443 patients who underwent adhesiolysis for AIOs, 53 and 47 % underwent early and late adhesiolysis, respectively. Late adhesiolysis patients were older (65.0 vs. 60.1 years) and more co-morbid compared to the early group (p < 0.05). After adjustment with propensity score methods, late adhesiolysis patients had no difference in mortality (odds ratio [OR] 0.95, 95%-confidence intervals [CI] 0.67–1.36, p = 0.79) or POCs (OR 1.01, 95%CI 0.89–1.14, p = 0.91) compared to the early group, but had 9.8 % increased PLOS and 41.9 % increased in-hospital cost (p < 0.001).


The 2-day limit of watchful waiting is not associated with increased mortality or POCs for those patients undergoing adhesiolysis for an AIO. Late adhesiolysis, however, was associated with significantly increased PLOS and in-hospital cost compared to early adhesiolysis.


Intestinal obstruction Small bowel obstruction Adhesions Adhesiolysis 



We would like to thank Dr. Gheorghe Doros and Denis Rybin, MA from the Biostatistics Consulting Group (BCG) at the Boston University School of Public Health for their guidance and execution of the statistical analysis.

Source of financial support

Robert and Dana Smith Family Foundation and the Smithwick Endowment Fund, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine.


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel I. Chu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Melanie L. Gainsbury
    • 1
  • Lauren A. Howard
    • 1
  • Arthur F. Stucchi
    • 1
  • James M. Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryBoston University Medical CenterBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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