OBJECTIVE: To determine factors predictive of bowel complications after gynecologic surgery and establish the added utility of computed tomography (CT) in the diagnostic process.
METHODS: Patients who underwent gynecologic surgery between January 2, 2008, and December 30, 2010, who had CT scans of the abdomen, pelvis, or abdomen and pelvis within 42 days for a suspected bowel complication were identified. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors predictive of bowel-related complications. The diagnostic accuracy of CT was compared among patient risk groups based on clinical suspicion (pretest probability) of bowel complications.
RESULTS: Among 205 eligible patients, 38 (18.5%) patients had a bowel-related complication. Mean time from surgery to CT was 12.4 (10.1) days. Clinical characteristics were used to develop a clinical model that included unexpected drainage from the drain, wound, or stoma (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 26.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.1–224.4, P=.003), coronary artery disease (OR 10.7, CI 1.4–80.9, P=.022), laparotomy (compared with minimally invasive surgery) (OR 4.4, CI 1.1–17.2, P=.032), and age older than 45 years (OR 2.4, CI 0.7–8.8, P=.18). Addition of CT to clinical evaluation increased the predictive ability of the model (area under the curve) from 0.73 to 0.99. Among 57 low-risk patients, three with confirmed bowel-related complications would have been missed if CT was not performed. Among 13 high-risk patients, CT sensitivity was 70%, and it was negative for bowel complications in three patients subsequently confirmed to have serious complications (one anastomotic leak, two bowel perforations).
CONCLUSIONS: In patients who have undergone gynecologic surgery and have a high clinical probability of a postoperative bowel-related complication, CT alone may fail to accurately identify patients with serious complications.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II