Assessing outcomes in laparoscopic vs open surgical management of adhesive small bowel obstruction

Ryan L. Chin, Diego L. Lima, Xavier Pereira, Gustavo Romero-Velez, Patricia Friedmann, Gbalekan Dawodu, Kaitlin Sterbenz, Jaclyn Yamada, Prashanth Sreeramoju, Vance Smith, Flavio Malcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Small bowel obstruction is typically managed nonoperatively; however, refractory small bowel obstructions or closed loop obstructions necessitate operative intervention. Traditionally, laparotomy has long been the standard operative intervention for lysis of adhesions of small bowel obstructions. But as surgeons become more comfortable with minimally invasive techniques, laparoscopy has become a widely accepted intervention for small bowel obstructions. The objective of this study was to compare the outcomes of laparoscopy to open surgery in the operative management of small bowel obstruction. Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of operative small bowel obstruction cases at a single academic medical center from June 2016 to December 2019. Data were obtained from billing data and electronic medical record for patients with primary diagnosis of small bowel obstruction. Postoperative outcomes between the laparoscopic and open intervention groups were compared. The primary outcome was time to return of bowel function. Secondary outcomes included length of stay, 30-day mortality, 30-day readmission, VTE, and reoperation rate. Results: The cohort consisted of a total of 279 patients with 170 (61%) and 109 (39%) patients in the open and laparoscopic groups, respectively. Patients undergoing laparoscopic intervention had overall shorter median return of bowel function (4 vs 6 days, p = 0.001) and median length of stay (8 vs 13 days, p = 0.001). When stratifying for bowel resection, patients in the laparoscopic group had shorter return of bowel function (5.5 vs 7 days, p = 0.06) and shorter overall length of stay (10 vs 16 days, p < 0.002). Patients in the laparoscopic group who did not undergo bowel resection had an overall shorter median return of bowel function (3 vs 5 days, p < 0.0009) and length of stay (7 vs 10 days, p < 0.006). When comparing surgeons who performed greater than 40% cases laparoscopically to those with fewer than 40%, there was no difference in patient characteristics. There was no significant difference in return of bowel function, length of stay, post-operative mortality, or re-admission laparoscopic preferred or open preferred surgeons. Conclusion: Laparoscopic intervention for the operative management of small bowel obstruction may provide superior clinical outcomes, shorter return of bowel function and length of stay compared to open operation, but patient selection for laparoscopic intervention is based on surgeon preference rather than patient characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSurgical endoscopy
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Laparoscopy
  • Outcomes
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Surgical outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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