Background: The abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) is a recognized complication of damage control surgery (DCS). The purposes of this study were to (1) determine the effect of ACS on outcome after DCS, (2) identify patients at high risk for the development of ACS, and (3) determine whether ACS can be prevented by preemptive intravenous bag closure during DCS.
Methods: Patients requiring postinjury DCS at our institution from January 1996 to June 2000 were divided into groups depending on whether or not they developed ACS. ACS was defined as an intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) greater than 20 mm Hg in association with increased airway pressure or impaired renal function.
Results: ACS developed in 36% of the 77 patients who underwent DCS with a mean IAP prior to decompression of 26 +/- 1 mm Hg. The ACS versus non-ACS groups were not significantly different in patient demographics, Injury Severity Score, emergency department vital signs, or intensive care unit admission indices (blood pressure, temperature, base deficit, cardiac index, lactate, international normalized ratio, partial thromboplastin time, and 24-hour fluid). The initial peak airway pressure after DCS was higher in those patients who went on to develop ACS. The development of ACS after DCS was associated with increased ICU stays, days of ventilation, complications, multiorgan failure, and mortality.
Conclusions: ACS after postinjury DCS worsens outcome. With the exception of early elevation in peak airway pressure, we could not identify patients at higher risk for ACS; moreover, preemptive abdominal bag closure during initial DCS did not prevent this highly morbid complication.