Objective: To evaluate the value of selective laparotomy in pregnant women with penetrating abdominal injuries.
Methods: A retrospective survey was carried out at our center over 16 years of civil war, extending from 1975 to 1991. Fourteen pregnant women had uterine injuries secondary to high-velocity abdominal penetrating trauma. The corresponding management was evaluated carefully with respect to maternal and fetal outcomes.
Results: Two maternal deaths occurred, neither resulting solely from intra-abdominal injuries. Visceral injuries were present when the entrance of the missile was in either the upper abdomen or the back. When the entry site was anterior and below the uterine fundus, visceral injuries were absent in all six women upon surgical exploration. Perinatal deaths occurred in half of the cases and were due to maternal shock or uteroplacental or direct fetal injury. Immediate cesarean delivery was performed because of either limited surgical field exposure, fetal injury, or distress. Three patients explored were managed by delaying delivery. All later delivered vaginally with successful fetal outcomes in all three.
Conclusion: Selective laparotomy may be considered in pregnant women with anterior penetrating abdominal trauma, as the likelihood of intra-abdominal injuries may be predicted based on the location of the penetrating wound. (Obstet Gynecol 1994;83:259-64)
(C) 1994 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists