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Introduction/backgroundThis study compares planned repeat laparotomy (PR) with on-demand repeat laparotomy (OD) in a developing world setting.Materials and methodsThis study was conducted over a 30-month study period (December 2012-May 2015) at Greys Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. All trauma and general surgery adult patients requiring a single relaparotomy were included in this study. Prospectively gathered data entered into an established electronic registry were retrospectively analysed. Full ethical approval for the registry and this study was granted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Biomedical Ethics Committee.ResultsA total of 162 patients were included, with an average age of 36 years (standard deviation 17) and 69 % male predominance. Appendicitis and stab abdomen were the most common underlying diagnoses. PR strategy was used in 46 % and an OD approach in 54 %. Patients selected for the PR strategy had higher admission pulse rates, higher Modified Early Warning System (MEWS) scores and significantly higher rates of diffuse intra-abdominal sepsis at initial laparotomy. However, findings at relaparotomy were similar in both groups. The PR group had a much shorter time between operations, but much higher need for intensive care unit (ICU) admission. There was no difference between the groups in terms of open abdomen at discharge, length of hospital stay, morbidity or mortality.ConclusionIn our environment, a planned approach to relaparotomy shows no major outcome advantages over an on-demand approach. There is however increased need for ICU admission with the PR approach. This is in keeping with international literature. Of concern is the much longer time delay between index procedure and repeat operation in the OD group. Improved post-operative decision making may help address this.

Original publication





World journal of surgery

Publication Date





1558 - 1564


Department of Surgery, Pietermaritzburg Hospital Complex, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


Humans, Appendicitis, Laparotomy, Reoperation, Retrospective Studies, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Intensive Care Units, South Africa, Female, Male