AIM: To investigate the possible reasons and suggest therapeutic plan of stress-induced intestinal necrosis resulting from the severe trauma.
METHODS: Three patients in our study were trapped inside collapsed structures for 22, 21 and 37 h, respectively. The patients underwent 3-4 operations after sustaining their injuries. Mechanical ventilation, intermittent hemodialysis and other treatments were also provided. The patients showed signs of peritoneal irritation on postoperative days 10-38. Small intestinal necrosis was confirmed by emergency laparotomy, and for each patient, part of the small bowel was removed.
RESULTS: Two patients who all performed 3 operations died of respiratory complications on the first and second postoperative days respectively. The third patient who performed 4 operations was discharged and made a full recovery. Three patients had the following common characteristics: (1) Multiple severe trauma events with no direct penetrating gastrointestinal injury; (2) Multiple surgeries with impaired renal function and intermittent hemodialysis treatment; (3) Progressive abdominal pain and tenderness, and peritoneal irritation was present on post-traumatic days 10-38; (4) Abdominal operations confirmed segment ulcer, necrosis of the small intestine, hyperplasia and stiffness of the intestinal wall; and (5) Pathological examinations suggested submucosal hemorrhage, necrosis, fibrosis and hyalinization of the vascular wall. Pathological examinations of all 3 patients suggested intestinal necrosis with fistulas.
CONCLUSION: Intestinal necrosis is strongly asso-ciated with stress from trauma and post-traumatic complications; timely exploratory laparotomy maybe an effective method for preventing and treating stress-induced intestinal necrosis.