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Laparoscopic vs. open surgery for acute adhesive small-bowel obstruction: patients’ outcome and cost-effectiveness

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Numerous studies have demonstrated the feasibility of laparoscopy in the management of acute adhesive small-bowel obstruction (AASBO). However, comparative data with laparotomy are lacking. The aim of this study was to compare laparoscopy and laparotomy for the treatment of AASBO in terms of patient outcome and cost-effectiveness.


A retrospective chart review of all patients who underwent surgery for AASBO from 1999 to 2005 was conducted. Data recorded included operative and postoperative course, among others. Operative and total hospital charges were estimated from the Patient Accounting System.


Thirty-one patients who underwent laparoscopy were matched to a similar group of patients who underwent laparotomy. In the laparoscopy group, four patients (13%) had a laparoscopy-assisted procedure and ten patients (32%) were converted. The laparoscopy group was subdivided into laparoscopy, laparoscopy-assisted, converted, and assisted-converted subgroups. In the majority of the patients, AASBO was secondary to a single band. Overall morbidity was significantly higher in the laparotomy group (p = 0.007). Morbidity rates were statistically significant between the laparoscopy and assisted-converted subgroups (p = 0.0001) but not between the laparotomy group and assisted-converted subgroup (p = 0.19). Median hospital stay and median time to first bowel movement were significantly shorter in the laparoscopy group. Charge data were available for only the last three years of the study. Operative charges and total hospital charges were similar between the laparoscopy and the laparotomy groups (p = 0.14 and p = 0.10, respectively). There was a significant difference in total hospital charges between the laparoscopy subgroup and laparotomy group (p = 0.03).


Laparoscopy for AASBO is associated with reduced hospital stay, early recovery, and decreased morbidity. Laparoscopy-assisted and converted surgeries do not differ significantly from laparotomy in regard to patient outcome. Operative and total hospital charges are similar for both laparoscopy and laparotomy.

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Correspondence to S. D. Wexner.

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Presented at the Northeastern Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, FL 6–9 November 2005, and at the 17th Annual Meeting of the South Florida Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, Miami, FL, 20 April 2006

This study was supported in part by an educational grant from Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. and in part by the 21st Century Oncology Chair in Colorectal Surgery

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Khaikin, M., Schneidereit, N., Cera, S. et al. Laparoscopic vs. open surgery for acute adhesive small-bowel obstruction: patients’ outcome and cost-effectiveness. Surg Endosc 21, 742–746 (2007).

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