There is often a delay of more than 12 h in transferring patients with penetrating colonic injury from outlying hospitals to a regional referral centre. The aim of this prospective study was to determine whether primary suture of a penetrating colonic injury in the presence of delayed presentation, shock, peritoneal contamination or associated injuries leads to increased morbidity and mortality rates.
Patients with penetrating colonic injuries were randomized to primary closure or colostomy. Patients were compared with regard to interval from injury to operation, associated injuries, duration of operation, postoperative complications and hospital stay.
Two hundred and forty patients were seen over a 69-month period. The interval from injury to operation ranged from 3 to 56 h, and was similar in the two treatment groups. Postoperative complications were similar in the two groups but there were significant differences in operation time (mean(s.d.) 127·1(45·8) min for primary repair and 142·3(43·0) min for colostomy; P = 0·009) and length of hospital stay (mean (range) 9 (6–56) versus 26 (13–64) days respectively; P < 0·001).
Delay from time of penetrating colonic injury is not a contraindication to primary repair. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd