Surgical management of gastroschisis in North Queensland from 1988 to 2007


Dr John Whitehall, Chair of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Fax: +61 2 9582 4702; email:


Aim:  To review outcomes of gastroschises originating in North Queensland and repaired in the neonatal centre in Townsville from 1988–2007, and compare these outcomes with published data from other centres.

Methods:  A retrospective chart review of outcomes after primary operative repair (POR) with wound closure in fascial layers in the theatre, primary non-operative repair (PNOR) with apposition of the umbilical cord and adhesive dressing in the ward, secondary repair (SR) after a silo, and complex repair (CR) of cases with obstruction, perforation or atresiae. Epidemiological data of babies originating in North Queensland but managed in Brisbane were secured from Mater Mothers' Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Children.

Results:  Fifty cases were treated in Townsville: 16 by PNOR, 22 by POR, 6 by SR and 6 by CR. Outcomes of uncomplicated cases treated by PNOR, POR and SR were similar. Outcomes of complicated cases after CR were significantly worse. No significant differences were found between PNOR in Townsvillle and published outcomes after SR from four overseas units. No differences were detected in outcomes of inborn and outborn babies, those delivered by vaginal or caesarean birth or between indigenous and non-indigenous babies. Three (6%) died. Gastroschisis is increasing in North Queensland, particularly in younger mothers. The incidence is 2–3 times higher in indigenous mothers.

Conclusion:  No significant differences were found between PNOR and other techniques for uncomplicated cases. PNOR avoids the use of theatre and staff, reducing delay and cost, and the need to transport a sick baby.