Around 15 per cent of patients will suffer complications—often requiring another hospital visit—and just over one per cent will die following emergency surgery.
But when researchers from the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston looked more closely at the numbers, they discovered the ‘dangerous seven’ procedures that account for almost all the deaths and complications.
The seven are:
- Partial colectomy (removal of part of the colon)
- Small-bowel resection
- Cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal)
- Peptic ulcer procedures
- Removal of peritoneal (abdominal) adhesions
- Laparotomy (to open the abdomen)
The other 28 procedures they investigated were relatively safe and had few complications, they discovered.
But if it’s an emergency procedure, what can anyone do about it? Plenty, say the researchers: for one, now that the ‘dangerous seven’ have finally been identified, medicine should find ways of making the procedures safer. Until they do, patients should check out the track-record of the surgeon performing the procedure to make sure they are in as safe a pair of hands as possible.