A 5 year experience of 248 patients with isolated penetrating lower chest injury was reviewed. Twenty-two (15 percent) of the stab wounds and 46 (46 percent) of the gunshot wounds caused associated intraabdominal injury. Among those taken to the operating room for laparotomy, physical examination proved misleading in 40 percent of the patients with stab wounds and 30 percent of those with gunshot wounds. The diagnostic accuracy of peritoneal lavage, used selectively, was 93 percent for the patients with stab wounds and 90 percent for those with gunshot wounds. The morbidity was high in patients with combined injuries, with major complications occurring in 27 percent of those with stab wounds and 43 percent of those with gunshot wounds. Two thirds or more of these complications were thoracic. There was one death (4 percent) among the patients with thoracoabdominal stab wounds and six (13 percent) among those with gunshot wounds.
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