Purpose of the review: There has been an exponentially increasing interest in intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH). Comparison of the published data however is difficult due to the lack of consensus definitions. This review will focus on the available literature from the last 2 years. A Medline and PubMed search was performed using 'intra-abdominal pressure' (IAP), 'intra-abdominal hypertension' (IAH), and 'abdominal compartment syndrome' (ACS) as search items. The aim was to find an answer to the question 'Isn't it time to pay attention to intra-abdominal pressure in the critically ill?'
Recent findings: Although the number of studies published on this topic is steadily increasing and confirms the pathophysiologic implications of IAH on end-organ function within and outside the abdominal cavity it remains difficult to compare the literature data because the measurement methods and definitions used are not uniform. Provocative data have been published regarding the interactions between the abdominal and thoracic compartments especially in patients with capillary leak and fluid overload; most of this data raises even more questions than it gives answers and may therefore strengthen the nonbelievers who consider IAP, IAH and ACS as epiphenomena in critically ill patients. Unless the international scientific community does not come forward with clear-cut definitions we will keep comparing 'apples with oranges.'
Summary: It is time to pay attention to intra-abdominal pressure in the critically ill. It is also time for standardized IAP measurement methods, good consensus definitions and randomized interventional studies.