Management of the patient with the open abdomen

Curr Opin Crit Care. 2021 Dec 1;27(6):726-732. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0000000000000879.


Purpose of review: The aim of this study was to outline the management of the patient with the open abdomen.

Recent findings: An open abdomen approach is used after damage control laparotomy, to decrease risk for postsurgery intra-abdominal hypertension, if reoperation is likely and after primary abdominal decompression.Temporary abdominal wall closure without negative pressure is associated with higher rates of intra-abdominal infection and evisceration. Negative pressure systems improve fascial closure rates but increase fistula formation. Definitive abdominal wall closure should be considered once oedema has subsided and the patient has stabilized. Delayed abdominal closure after trauma (>24-48 h) is associated with less achievement of fascial closure and more complications. Protective lung ventilation should be employed early, particularly if respiratory compromise is evident. Conservative fluid management and less sedation may decrease delirium and increase definitive abdominal closure rates. Extubation may be performed before definitive abdominal closure in selected patients. Antibiotic therapy should be brief, targeted and guideline concordant. Survival depends on the underlying disease, the closure method and the course of hospitalization.

Summary: Changes in the treatment of patients with the open abdomen include negative temporary closure, conservative fluid management, early protective lung ventilation, decreased sedation and extubation before abdominal closure in selected patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery
  • Abdominal Cavity* / surgery
  • Abdominal Injuries* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Hypertension* / etiology
  • Intra-Abdominal Hypertension* / therapy
  • Laparotomy / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies