Mortality rates of patients undergoing emergency laparotomy in an Irish university teaching hospital

  • Aoife C. Kiernan
  • Peadar S. Waters
  • Sean Tierney
  • Paul Neary
  • Maria Donnelly
  • Dara O. Kavanagh
  • Bridget Egan
Original Article



Emergency laparotomy (EL) is a commonly performed operation with increased morbidity and mortality. Currently, there is a lack of published outcomes following emergency laparotomy within an Irish population. The aim of this study was to assess our outcomes and compare these to predefined outcomes from NELA.


A review of a prospectively maintained database of all patients who underwent an emergency laparotomy between January 1st 2015 and October 31st 2016 was performed. Patient demographics, operative indication and procedures, preoperative lactate, time of surgery, admission to high dependency unit (HDU) and mortality (30- and 90-day mortality) were included. Statistical analysis was performed using Minitab V18 with p < 0.05 considered significant.


One hundred twenty-four emergency operations were performed on 120 patients. The median age was 60 years. Indications for surgery included the following (%): peritonitis (32.45%), obstruction (22.5%), complicated hernia (19.1%), mesenteric ischaemia (15%), trauma (4.1%), and acute haemorrhage (3.3%). A consultant surgeon and consultant anaesthetist were present at 79 and 78% of EL carried out, respectively. Reported 30- and 90-day mortality were 6.66 and 11.6%, respectively. Thirty-day mortality was 20% in octogenarians. Index lactate did not correlate with mortality (p = 0.43). A significant proportion of mortalities had procedures carried out between 6 pm and midnight with the highest mortality rate in patients with mesenteric ischaemia (p < 0.05).


EL is associated with high mortality rates. Our mortality figures compare favourably with the NELA data. We support the development of a national database to facilitate improvements in the quality of care delivered to this high-risk cohort.


Emergency Lactate Laparotomy Mortality NELA Octogenarian 


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aoife C. Kiernan
    • 1
  • Peadar S. Waters
    • 1
  • Sean Tierney
    • 2
  • Paul Neary
    • 1
  • Maria Donnelly
    • 3
  • Dara O. Kavanagh
    • 1
  • Bridget Egan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryTallaght HospitalDublin 24Ireland
  2. 2.Department of Vascular SurgeryTallaght HospitalDublin 24Ireland
  3. 3.Department of AnaestheticsTallaght HospitalDublin 24Ireland

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