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Original Article
February 1998

Long-term Outcome After Open Treatment of Severe Intra-abdominal Infection and Pancreatic Necrosis

Author Affiliations

From the First Department of Surgery (Drs Kriwanek, Armbruster, Dittrich, Beckerhinn, and Schwarzmaier) and the Department of Postoperative Intensive Care (Dr Redl), Rudolfstiftung-Hospital, Vienna, Austria.

Arch Surg. 1998;133(2):140-144. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.2.140

Background  Outcome assessment after surgical treatment of intra-abdominal infections and pancreatic necrosis has concentrated on postoperative complications and survival, while long-term results have received little attention.

Objectives  To evaluate hospital costs and long-term outcome for patients undergoing open treatment of intra-abdominal infection or pancreatic necrosis and to determine whether results justify costs.

Design  Cohort study and cost-effectiveness analysis.

Setting  Referral center.

Patients  From January 1, 1988, through June 30, 1996, we used open treatment for 147 patients with pancreatic necrosis (n=75; group 1), severe intra-abdominal infections due to benign diseases (n=50; group 2), and infections due to malignant neoplasm (n=22; group 3). All surviving patients (n=92) were followed up. Fifty-seven patients in group 1, 25 patients in group 2, and 10 patients in group 3 survived.

Interventions  The effective costs of treatment per surviving patient (including restorative surgery) were calculated. The patients were interviewed, and the residence location, medical treatment, degree of recovery, functional state, and employment status were assessed. We assessed the quality of life by using the short general health survey (SF-36).

Main Outcome Measures  Costs, survival, and long-term outcome.

Results  The effective costs per survivor studied were $175000 (group 1) and $232400 (groups 2 and 3). Most patients experienced good long-term results, ie, employment status was unchanged for 69 (75%) of the patients, and the functional state was unchanged for 81 (88%) of the patients. Readmission to a hospital was necessary for 14 (15%) of the patients, and 5 (6%) required care in nursing homes. Of the patients studied, 75% described their quality of life as good. Patients in group 3 had significantly worse results for survival, functional status, and quality of life (P<.01, log-rank test).

Conclusions  Our study demonstrated that open treatment of severe intra-abdominal infection and pancreatic necrosis is a cost-effective treatment with good long-term results for most patients. However, patients with malignant neoplasms did not benefit from this therapy and, therefore, should not be treated by laparostomy.