Getting back home' after emergency laparotomy: how many never make it?

Merran Holmes, Anya Rugendyke, Yan Joyce Ming, Peter Howley, Jon Gani, Peter Pockney, Hunter Emergency Laparotomy Audit Collaborator Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Emergency laparotomy (EL) is performed on about 15 500 patients in Australia each year. Aside from mortality there is significant concern about the possibility that previously independent patients discharged after EL will become reliant on long-term dependent care. This study aimed to establish the proportion of patients not returning to their pre-admission residence, a proxy for dependent care, following EL. Methods: Data were collected on all adult patients who underwent EL across four Australian hospitals over 2 years. A total of 113 data points were collected including pre-hospital residence, discharge destination, mortality and place of residence at 90 and 365 days. Results: A total of 782 patients underwent EL, the mean age was 64 years. Pre-admission, 95.5% of patients were living in their own home. Inpatient mortality was 7.0% and at discharge 72.4% of patients returned directly back to their pre-hospital residence. At 90 days, mortality was 10.5%, and 87% of patients had returned to their pre-hospital residence, including all patients under 70 years of age. By 365 days, overall mortality was 16.8%, and only 1.5% of patients (all aged >70 years) had not returned to their pre-hospital residence. Conclusion: Patients who survive 90 and 365 days following EL nearly all return to their pre-hospital residence, with only a very small proportion of previously independent patients entering dependent care. This should help inform shared decision-making regarding emergency laparotomy in the acute setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2433-2438
Number of pages6
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
Early online date7 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Decision making
  • General surgery
  • Laparotomy
  • Mortality
  • Quality of life


Dive into the research topics of 'Getting back home' after emergency laparotomy: how many never make it?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this