Background: Open abdomen (OA) treatment often results in difficulties in closing the abdomen. Highest closure rates are seen with the vacuum-assisted wound closure (VAWC) technique. However, we have experienced occasional failures with this technique in cases with severe visceral swelling needing longer treatment periods with open abdomen. Feasibility and short-term outcome of a novel combination of techniques for managing the open abdomen are presented.
Methods: The VAWC technique was combined with medial traction of the fasciae through a temporary mesh in seven consecutive patients. The VAWC-system was changed and the mesh tightened every 2-3 days.
Results: Median (range) age in the 7 men was 65 (17-78) years. The diagnoses were ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) (3), operation for juxtarenal AAA (1), iatrogenic aortic lesion (1), trauma (1) and abdominal abscesses (1). Four patients were decompressed due to abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) or intra-abdominal hypertension, and 3 could not be closed after laparotomy. Intra-abdominal pressure prior to OA treatment was 24 (17-36) mmHg. Maximal separation of the fasciae was 16 (7 -30) cm. Delayed primary closure was achieved in all patients after 32 (12-52) days with OA. No recurrent ACS was seen. No technique-specific complication was observed. Two small incisional hernias, one intra-abdominal abscess and one wound infection occurred in three patients.
Conclusions: Delayed primary closure in cases with severe visceral swelling and long periods of OA seems feasible with this technique.