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INTRODUCTION The purpose of this study was to audit our current management of colonic trauma, and to review our experience of colonic trauma in patients who underwent initial damage control (DC) surgery. METHODS All patients treated for colonic trauma between January 2012 and December 2014 by the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service were included in the study. Data reviewed included mechanism of injury, method of management (primary repair [PR], primary diversion [PD] or DC) and outcome (complications and mortality rate). Results A total of 128 patients sustained a colonic injury during the study period. Ninety-seven per cent of the injuries were due to penetrating trauma. Of these cases, 56% comprised stab wounds (SWs) and 44% were gunshot wounds (GSWs). Management was by PR in 99, PD in 20 and DC surgery in 9 cases. Among the 69 SW victims, 57 underwent PR, 9 had PD and 3 required a DC procedure. Of the 55 GSW cases, 40 were managed with PR, 9 with PD and 6 with DC surgery. In the PR group, there were 16 colonic complications (5 cases of breakdown and 11 of wound sepsis). Overall, nine patients (7%) died. CONCLUSIONS PR of colonic trauma is safe and should be used for the majority of such injuries. Persistent acidosis, however, should be considered a contraindication. In unstable patients with complex injuries, the optimal approach is to perform DC surgery. In this situation, formal diversion is contraindicated, and the injury should be controlled and dropped back into the abdomen at the primary operation. At the repeat operation, if the physiological insult has been reversed, then formal repair of the colonic injury is acceptable.

Original publication





Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Publication Date





76 - 81


University of KwaZulu-Natal , South Africa.


Colon, Humans, Wounds, Nonpenetrating, Wounds, Gunshot, Wounds, Stab, Critical Care, Injury Severity Score, Retrospective Studies, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Trauma Centers, Medical Audit, South Africa, Female, Male, Young Adult, Anastomotic Leak