The diagnosis of intraabdominal sepsis in critically ill intensive-care-unit patients remains a challenge. Diagnostic laparoscopy has been performed in seven such patients following admission for coronary artery bypass surgery, gram-negative sepsis, major burns, pneumonia, myocardial infarction, and post-pneumonectomy. Laparoscopy revealed acalculous cholecystitis in two patients (one removed laparoscopically), gangrenous colon in two, cirrhosis with liver infarction in one, and, in two patients, no pathology. Although five patients died postoperatively, none was related to the laparoscopy. There were no intraoperative complications and no known pathology was missed. Because of its ease and accuracy, diagnostic laparoscopy should be considered in all critically ill patients suspected of harboring intraabdominal pathology. Further studies are needed to fully establish its efficacy and safety.
- Intensive care unit
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