Intra-abdominal hypertension: incidence and association with organ dysfunction during early septic shock

J Crit Care. 2008 Dec;23(4):461-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2007.12.013. Epub 2008 Apr 18.


Purpose: The objective of this article is to study the cumulative incidence of intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) in septic shock (SS) patients during the first 72 hours of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and to determine if the presence and severity of IAH are associated with sepsis morbidity and mortality.

Materials and methods: Eighty-one consecutive SS patients admitted to a surgical-medical ICU of an academic university hospital (January 2005 to January 2006) were included. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and abdominal perfusion pressure (APP) were measured every 6 h (intermittently) for 72 h. Intra-abdominal pressure was registered as minimal, mean, and maximal values per day, during shock and throughout the study period. Intra-abdominal hypertension was diagnosed if IAP remained 12 mm Hg or higher on 2 consecutive measurements and stratified according to the most recent consensus definition (

Results: According to maximal and mean IAP values, 67 (82.7%) and 62 (76.5%) of the patients developed IAH during the study period, respectively. Mean IAP values remained stable throughout the study period. Surgical patients had a higher incidence of IAH than medical patients (93% vs 73%, P < .009). Maximal IAPs were normally distributed, with nonsurvivors exhibiting significantly higher IAP levels during shock (survivors, 17.2 +/- 5.3; nonsurvivors, 19.9 +/- 5.6 mm Hg; P < .04). Patients with IAH exhibited significantly lower values of APP and diuresis, higher values of lactate and creatinine, and higher maximal norepinephrine doses, and were more frequently mechanically ventilated (P < .05 for all). Increasing degrees of IAH and the development of the abdominal compartment syndrome were associated with lower APP and higher maximal serum creatinine levels (P < .03 for both).

Conclusions: Septic shock patients have a very high incidence of IAH, which seems to be associated with the severity of shock and could be related to the development of organ dysfunctions, particularly renal dysfunction. Intra-abdominal pressure should be routinely monitored during the course of SS.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Compartment Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Compartment Syndromes / mortality
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / mortality
  • Multiple Organ Failure / physiopathology
  • Pressure
  • Prospective Studies
  • Shock, Septic / mortality
  • Shock, Septic / physiopathology*