Trauma laparoscopy: when to start and when to convert?

Oleh Matsevych*, Modise Koto, Moses Balabyeki, Colleen Aldous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The use of laparoscopy for stable patients with abdominal trauma is increasing and its accuracy is nearly 100%. However, indications for laparoscopy and for conversion differ among centers. The aim of this study was to investigate indications for trauma laparoscopy and for conversion to laparotomy. Methods: All trauma patients managed with laparoscopy over a 4-year period were retrospectively analyzed. Indications for laparoscopy, morbidity, and reasons for conversion were investigated and predictors of morbidity and conversion were sought. The management algorithm of trauma patients was reviewed and updated. Results: Laparoscopy was used in 318 stable trauma patients. Thirty-five patients presented with blunt and 283 with penetrating abdominal injuries. The conversion rate was 11.7% for penetrating and 22.9% for blunt abdominal trauma patients. The most common reason for conversion was continuous intraabdominal bleeding that could not be controlled quickly. It was followed by multiple complex injuries, hemodynamic instability, and intraoperative visualization problems. Diagnostic laparoscopy was performed in 45%, and therapeutic laparoscopy in 55% of cases. There were no missed injuries. Complications occurred in 21.2% in the converted group and in 9.6% in the laparoscopic group. Among initial systolic blood pressure, pulse, hemoglobin, lactate, and base deficit levels, only lower pH was associated with conversion. Conclusion: The management of all stable trauma patients with laparoscopy appears to be a safe approach. The use of sound laparoscopic equipment by a well-coordinated trauma team with adequate expertise in laparoscopy, adherence to the algorithm, and strict compliance with predetermined procedural steps are fundamental to success. Continuous intraoperative bleeding, complexity of injuries, deterioration of the patient, poor visibility, and equipment failure are indications for conversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1344-1352
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Conversion
  • Indication
  • Laparoscopy
  • Therapeutic laparoscopy
  • Trauma
  • Trauma laparoscopy


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