Intra-abdominal packing does not increase infection risk or mandate longer presumptive antibiotic therapy

Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2023 May;29(5):618-626. doi: 10.14744/tjtes.2022.64438.


Background: Damage control laparotomy allows for resuscitation and reversal of coagulopathy with improved mortality. In-tra-abdominal packing is often used to limit hemorrhage. Temporary abdominal closure is associated with increased rates of subse-quent intra-abdominal infection. The effect of increased duration of antibiotics is unknown on these infection rates. We sought to determine the role of antibiotics in damage control surgery.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of all trauma patients requiring damage control laparotomy on admission to an ACS verified level one trauma center from 2011 to 2016 was performed. Demographic and clinical data including ability and time to attain primary fascial closure, as well as complication rates, were recorded. The primary outcome measure was intra-abdominal abscess formation following damage control laparotomy.

Results: Two-hundred and thirty-nine patients underwent DCS during the study period. A majority were packed (141/239, 59.0%). No differences existed in demographics or injury severity between groups, and infection rates were similar (30.5% vs. 38.8%, P=0.18). Patients with infection were more likely to have suffered gastric injury (23.3% vs. 6.1%, P=0.003) than those without complication. There was no significant association between gram negative and anaerobic (Odds Radio [OR] 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87-1.05) or antifungal therapy (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.74-1.31) and infection rate, regardless of duration on multivariate regression CONCLUSION: Our study offers the first review of the effect of antibiotic duration on intra-abdominal complications following DCS. Gastric injury was more commonly identified in patients who developed intra-abdominal infection. Duration of antimicrobial therapy does not affect infection rate in patients who are packed following DCS.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Cavity* / surgery
  • Abdominal Injuries* / complications
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Intraabdominal Infections* / complications
  • Intraabdominal Infections* / etiology
  • Laparotomy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents