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East Afr Med J. 2002 Sep;79(9):457-60. : University of Nairobi Press Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To determine the accuracy and sensitivity of diagnostic peritoneal lavage in the assessment of intra-abdominal injury using the dipstick method. DESIGN: Prospective study, involving the performance of diagnostic peritoneal lavage in the out patient department and surgical wards prior to surgical intervention. SETTING: Kenyatta National Hospital-General Surgical and Orthopaedic wards and outpatient department. The study was conducted over a duration of six months, starting from January 1995 to July 1995. RESULTS: Ninety six patients with penetrating (68) and blunt (28) abdominal trauma underwent diagnostic peritoneal lavage as evaluation of the severity of abdominal trauma. Dipstick (combur 9 strips) was used to evaluate lavage effluent for red blood cells, white blood cells, protein and bilirubin. Forty three patients had positive diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL) results, of which 40 (93%) had positive findings at laparatomy and three (7%) had negative findings at laparatomy. The remaining 53 patients had negative DPL results and were managed conservatively. One patient with a negative DPL result became symptomatic and had a positive laparatomy. Conservatively managed patients were discharged after 24 hours observations without any complications. DPL had an accuracy and sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 98%. CONCLUSION: Diagnostic peritoneal lavage is a cheap, safe and reliable method for assessment of abdominal trauma. The method is easy to perform by trained junior doctors in the OPD, or as a bedside procedure. Use of this method reduced negative laparotomy rate from 50% to 6.9% and average duration of stay from 6.5 days to 1.9 days. This method is recommended as a basic tool in the assessment of abdominal trauma patients.