Is fecal diversion necessary for nondestructive penetrating extraperitoneal rectal injuries?

Richard P. Gonzalez, Herbert Phelan, Moustaffa Hassan, C. Neal Ellis, Charles B. Rodning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Current management of penetrating extraperitoneal rectal injury includes diversion of the fecal stream. The purpose of this study is to assess whether nondestructive penetrating extraperitoneal rectal injuries can be managed successfully without diversion of the fecal stream. METHODS: This study was performed at an urban Level I trauma center during a 28-month period from February 2003 through June 2005. All patients who suffered nondestructive penetrating extraperitoneal rectal injuries were managed with a diagnosis and treatment protocol that excluded fecal stream diversion. Patients were placed in one of two management arms based upon clinical suspicion for intraperitoneal injury. In the first arm, patients with suspicion for rectal injury and a positive clinical examination for intraperitoneal injuries were delivered to the operating room for exploratory laparotomy. Proctoscopy was performed before exploratory laparotomy. Extraperitoneal rectal injuries were left to heal by secondary intention. Intraperitoneal rectal injuries were repaired primarily. Patients did not receive fecal diversion or perineal drainage. In the second management arm, patients with a negative clinical examination for intraperitoneal injury and wounding agent trajectory suspicious for rectal injury underwent diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL), cystography, and proctoscopy in the emergency room. Positive DPL or cystography warranted laparotomy as above. Patients with positive proctoscopy alone were admitted and placed on a clear liquid diet. Barium enema was performed 5 to 7 days postinjury for all rectal injuries with diets advanced accordingly.A matched historic control group of rectal injury patients who underwent fecal diversion was compared with the nondiversion protocol group. Patients from both groups were matched for penetrating abdominal trauma index (PATI), age and mechanism of injury. RESULTS: There were 14 consecutive patients diagnosed with penetrating rectal injury placed in the nondiversion management protocol. Of these, 9 (64%) patients in the nondiversion group required laparotomy. The average age in the diversion historical control group was 30.5 years and 29.3 years in the nondiversion group. The average PATI in the diversion group was 15.3 and 16.1 in the nondiversion protocol group. The average length of stay for the diversion and nondiversion groups was 9.8 days (range, 7-15) and 7.2 days (range, 4-10), respectively. There were no complications associated with rectal injuries in either group. CONCLUSIONS: Nondestructive penetrating rectal injuries can be managed successfully without fecal diversion. Randomized prospective study will be necessary to assess this management method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-819
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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