• To identify factors modifying the outcome of reoperation for intra-abdominal infection, we analyzed the management of 47 patients who underwent repeated laparotomy from July 1980 through July 1985. Overall mortality was 30% (14/47). Factors predictive of death were as follows: age greater than 60 years (86% mortality vs 21% mortality), preoperative vs no organ failure (57% vs 6%), multiple vs single abscess (53% vs 16%), and exploratory vs directed operative approach (39% vs 17%). Although the interval between the primary surgery and reoperation was similar between survivors (13 days) and nonsurvivors (14 days), five (36%) of 14 nonsurvivors were in septic shock and eight (57%) of 15 survivors showed evidence of organ failure prior to reoperation. The median survival period following reoperation in this group was only four days. Computed tomography (CT) and/or ultrasonography were performed to localize a source of infection in 24 patients. In nine (82%) of 11 patients, CT identified the abscess, while ultrasonography was positive in 15 (72%) of 21 patients. Neither the interval to operation nor the mortality was significantly different in patients diagnosed with CT and ultrasonography when compared with those who underwent exploration on the basis of clinical findings. To lower the mortality and to shorten the interval to reoperation in these high-risk patients, noninvasive diagnostic testing and confirmation by percutaneous sampling must be sought before the onset of clinical sepsis and organ failure.
(Arch Surg 1987;122:702-706)