We reviewed the records of 274 trauma patients who had 275 diagnostic peritoneal lavages from Feb 1, 1983 through Jan 31, 1986. Lavage was done in 271 of 560 (48%) cases of blunt trauma and three of 245 (1%) penetrating injuries (gunshot wounds to the chest). The open lavage technique was used, and results were considered grossly positive if there was 10 ml of gross blood. Results were considered microscopically positive if there were more than 100,000 RBCs or 500 WBCs/cu mm, an elevated amylase or bilirubin value, or bacteria or vegetable fibers. Lavage was negative in 193 cases, including false-negative results (1%), and positive in 78, with three false-positive results (3.8%). Open peritoneal lavage is safe, rapid, readily available, and accurate in the evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma.
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