Inter-hospital variation in management of patients with small bowel obstruction in Denmark

Mette Astrup Tolver, Mia Prindahl Ærenlund, Mahmoud Azzam, Trine Bjerke, Jakob Burcharth, Christian Bakholdt Dibbern, Thomas Korgaard Jensen, Jens Qvist Jordhøj, Ida Lolle, Loan Ngo-Stuyt, Emil Ø Nielsen, Liv Bjerre Juul Nielsen, Maria Olausson, Anders Peter Skovsen, Henry George Smith


INTRODUCTION: Inter-hospital variation in the management of small bowel obstruction (SBO) has been described in other countries, but the extent to which similar variations exist in Denmark remains unknown. This study aimed to compare the management of SBO between hospitals in Denmark and identify potential areas for improvement METHODS. This was a multicentre prospective study performed at six emergency hospitals. Patients aged ≥ 18 years with a diagnosis of SBO were eligible for inclusion. The primary study endpoints were the proportion of patients undergoing operative versus non-operative management, laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery and the success rate of non-operative management.

RESULTS: A total of 316 patients were included. No differences were noted in diagnostic pathways or operative versus non-operative management. However, variations were noted in compliance with peri-operative care bundles, ranging from 63.2% to 95.8%. The surgical approach also varied, with the use of laparoscopic surgery ranging from 20.7% to 71.0% (p less-than 0.001). Variations were also noted in duration of surgery (63-124 minutes, p less-than 0.001), time to re-introduction of normal diet and length of hospital stay (3-8.5 days, p less-than 0.001). No differences were observed in 30-day or 90-day mortality rates.

CONCLUSION: The management of SBO in Denmark is relatively standardised. Future efforts should focus on improving adherence to multidisciplinary peri-operative protocols, optimising patient selection for laparoscopic surgery and standardising nutritional therapy.



Original languageEnglish
Article numberA1230057
JournalDanish Medical Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2023


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