Acute Care Surgery and Surgical Rescue: Expanding the Definition

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Journal Title

Journal of the American College of Surgeons

MeSH Headings

Humans; Female; Middle Aged; Male; Critical Care; Laparotomy; Hospitalization; Abdomen; Prospective Studies; Retrospective Studies


BACKGROUND: Surgical rescue (SR) is the recovery of patients with surgical complications. Patients transferred (TP) for surgical diagnoses to higher-level care or inpatients (IP) admitted to nonsurgical services may develop intra-abdominal infection (IAI) and require emergency surgery (ES). The aims were to characterize the SR population by the site of ES consultation, open abdomen (OA), and risk of mortality. STUDY DESIGN: This was an international, multi-institutional prospective observational study of patients requiring ES for IAI. Laparotomy before the transfer was an exclusion criterion. Patients were divided into groups: clinic/ED (C/ED), IP, or TP. Data collected included demographics, the severity of illness (SOI), procedures, OA, and number of laparotomies. The primary outcome was mortality. Multivariable logistic regression models were constructed. RESULTS: There were 752 study patients (C/ED 63.8% vs TP 23.4% and IP 12.8%), with a mean age of 59 years and 43.6% women. IP had worse SOI scores (Charlson Comorbidity Index, American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System, and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment). The most common procedures were small and large bowel (77.3%). IP and TP had similar rates of OA (IP 52.1% and TP 52.3 %) vs C/ED (37.7%, p < 0.001), and IP had more relaparotomies (3 or 4). The unadjusted mortality rate was highest in IP (n = 24, 25.0%) vs TP (n = 29, 16.5%) and C/ED (n = 68, 14.2%, p = 0.03). Adjusting for age and SOI, only SOI had an impact on the risk of mortality (area under the curve 86%). CONCLUSIONS: IP had the highest unadjusted mortality after ES for IAI and was followed by the TP; SOI drove the risk of mortality. SR must be extended to IP for timely recognition of the IAI.

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