The high mortality in patients who undergo nephrectomy after trauma is not secondary to the nephrectomy itself but is the consequence of a more severe constellation of injuries associated with renal injuries that require operative intervention.
A retrospective review of all patients identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes as having sustained renal injuries over a 62-month period.
Seventy-eight patients with renal injuries who underwent exploratory laparotomy were identified.
All medical records were reviewed for patient management, definitive care, and outcome. Based on outcome, patients were assigned to either the survivor or nonsurvivor group. For patients who underwent nephrectomy, intraoperative core temperature changes, estimated blood loss, and operative time were also reviewed.
Seventy-eight patients with renal injuries who underwent exploratory laparotomy were identified. Twenty-nine patients underwent laparotomy with conservative management of the renal injury, of whom 5 (17.2%) died. Twelve patients had renal injuries repaired and all survived. Thirty-seven patients underwent nephrectomy, of whom 16 (43.2%) died. Compared with nephrectomy survivors, nephrectomy nonsurvivors had a significantly lower initial systolic blood pressure, higher Injury Severity Score, higher incidence of extra-abdominal injuries, shorter operative duration, and higher estimated operative blood loss. The nephrectomy survivors' core temperature increased a mean of 0.5°C in the operating room, while the nephrectomy nonsurvivors' core temperature cooled a mean of 0.8°C.
Patients who undergo trauma nephrectomy tend to be severely injured and hemodynamically unstable and warrant nephrectomy as part of the damage control paradigm. That a high percentage of patients die after nephrectomy for trauma demonstrates the severity of the overall constellation of injury and is not a consequence of the nephrectomy itself.