Skin Only or Silo Closure in the Critically Ill Patient with an Open Abdomen

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Background: The morbidity and mortality of various open abdominal techniques remains unclear.

Methods: A retrospective review was made of all trauma or general surgery patients who underwent an open abdominal closure from January 1997 to December 2000, at a large urban acute care hospital. Data are mean ± SD.

Results: From 1997 to 2000, 181 patients (aged 39.8 ± 16.5 years) had an open abdomen for abdominal infection, planned reexploration, abdominal compartment syndrome, inability to reapproximate fascia, or as part of a “damage control” procedure. Twenty-three patients went on to develop an abdominal compartment syndrome. Gastrointestinal fistulas occurred in 26 patients, and 9 patients had a dehiscence. The overall mortality was 44.7%. Of the survivors, 52% went on to fascial closure, requiring 1 to 7 additional abdominal operations.

Conclusions: The morbidity of the open abdomen varies with the particular indication. Gastrointestinal fistulas are the most common acute complication and an abdominal wall hernia, the most common chronic complication.


This article was presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Surgical Congress, Cancun, Mexico, April 29-May 2, 2001.



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