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Evolving management strategies in patients with adhesive small bowel obstruction: a population-based analysis


Background — In patients with adhesive small bowel obstruction (aSBO), the decision to operate as well as the timing and technique of surgery have significant impacts on clinical outcomes. Trends in the management of aSBO have not been described at the population level and guideline adherence is unknown. We sought to evaluate the secular trends in the management of aSBO in a large North American population. 

Methods — We used administrative data to identify patients admitted to hospital for their first episode of aSBO over 2005-2014. We evaluated temporal trends in admission for aSBO and in management practices using Cochran-Armitage tests. Multivariable logistic regressions were used to assess trends when controlling for potential confounders. 

Results — Patients (40,800) were admitted with their first episode of aSBO. The mean age was 68.5 years and 55% of patients were female. The population-based rate of admission for aSBO decreased over the study period, from 39.1 to 38.1 per 100,000 persons per year. There was a significant increase in the proportion of patients who underwent surgery for aSBO (19 to 23%, p < 0.0001). Among those who underwent surgery, there were significant increases in the proportions of patients who underwent laparoscopic procedures (4 to 14%, p < 0.0001) and who underwent surgery within 1 day of admission (51 to 60%, p < 0.0001). 

Conclusions — Between 2005 and 2014, there was a decrease in the population-based rate of aSBO, which may reflect increased utilization of minimally invasive techniques. There were significant trends towards increased operative intervention, with surgery occurring earlier and increasingly using laparoscopic approach.



Behman R, Nathens AB, Look Hong N, Pechlivanoglou P, Karanicolas PJ. J Gastrointest Surg. 2018; 22(12):2133-41. Epub 2018 Jul 26.