The secondary and recurrent abdominal compartment syndrome

Acta Clin Belg. 2007;62 Suppl 1:60-5.


Introduction: The Secondary Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (SACS) refers to cases of the ACS that do not originate from the abdomino-pelvic region. With greater awareness of the physiologic consequences of raised intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH), cases of the SACS are being increasingly described. The prior treatment or the presence of a partially open abdomen does not preclude the ACS if the abdomen and viscera continue to swell or the clinician is not vigilant in monitoring intra-abdominal pressure (lAP). Such recurrent cases (RACS) have been defined as those which redevelop following the previous medical or surgical treatment of primary or SACS. Although there has been a diverse range of etiologies implicated, these cases seem to be linked by the common occurrence of severe shock requiring aggressive fluid resuscitation. The aim of this paper is to thus to review the historical background, awareness, definitions, pathophysiological implications and treatment options for SACS and RACS.

Methods: This review will focus on the available literature regarding SACS and RACS. A Medline and Pubmed search was performed using the keywords; secondary abdominal compartment syndrome AND secondary AND tertiary AND recurrent AND abdominal compartment syndrome AND intra-abdominal pressureAND intra-abdominal hypertension. Bibliographies of recovered papers were hand-searched for other appropriate references. The resulting references were included in the current review on the basis of relevance and scientific merit

Results: There has been remarkably little specific study of these entities outside of specific groups such as those injured by thermal or traumatic injury. The epidemiology, risk factors for, treatment of and most importantly, strategies for prevention all remain scientifically unknown and therefore based on opinion. Notable, although small, studies suggest that specific resuscitation practices may avert these conditions.

Conclusions: ACS can occur in any patient who is critically ill and subject to visceral and somatic swelling, regardless of whether the inciting pathology is extra-abdominal. The ACS may also reoccur with recurrent shock and swelling even if previous therapies had partially addressed IAH. Therefore IAP measurements should be considered a routine monitoring for the critically ill, especially those subjected to shock and requiring a subsequent resuscitation. Much further study is required to understand the differences in etiology, diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment for all cases of the ACS.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / physiopathology*
  • Burns / complications
  • Compartment Syndromes / etiology*
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Critical Illness
  • Humans
  • Patient Care / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications*