Secondary abdominal compartment syndrome is an elusive early complication of traumatic shock resuscitation

Am J Surg. 2002 Dec;184(6):538-43; discussion 543-4. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(02)01050-4.


Background: The term secondary abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) has been applied to describe trauma patients who develop ACS but do not have abdominal injuries. The purpose of this study was to describe major trauma victims who developed secondary ACS during standardized shock resuscitation.

Methods: Our prospective database for standardized shock resuscitation was reviewed to obtain before and after abdominal decompression shock related data for secondary ACS patients. Focused chart review was done to confirm time-related outcomes.

Results: Over the 30 months period ending May 2001, 11 (9%) of 128 standardized shock resuscitation patients developed secondary ACS. All presented in severe shock (systolic blood pressure 85 +/- 5 mm Hg, base deficit 8.6 +/- 1.6 mEq/L), with severe injuries (injury severity score 28 +/- 3) and required aggressive shock resuscitation (26 +/- 2 units of blood, 38 +/- 3 L crystalloid within 24 hours). All cases of secondary ACS were recognized and decompressed within 24 hours of hospital admission. After decompression, the bladder pressure and the systemic vascular resistance decreased, while the mean arterial pressure, cardiac index, and static lung compliance increased. The mortality rate was 54%. Those who died failed to respond to decompression with increased cardiac index and did not maintain decreased bladder pressure.

Conclusions: Secondary ACS is an early but, if appropriately monitored, recognizable complication in patients with major nonabdominal trauma who require aggressive resuscitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Compartment Syndromes / etiology*
  • Compartment Syndromes / mortality
  • Compartment Syndromes / surgery*
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy / adverse effects
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Resuscitation / adverse effects*
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Shock, Traumatic / therapy*
  • Thoracic Injuries / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome