The unrestricted global effort to complete the COOL trial

World J Emerg Surg. 2023 May 11;18(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s13017-023-00500-z.


Background: Severe complicated intra-abdominal sepsis (SCIAS) has an increasing incidence with mortality rates over 80% in some settings. Mortality typically results from disruption of the gastrointestinal tract, progressive and self-perpetuating bio-mediator generation, systemic inflammation, and multiple organ failure. A further therapeutic option may be open abdomen (OA) management with negative peritoneal pressure therapy (NPPT) to remove inflammatory ascites and attenuate the systemic damage from SCIAS, although there are definite risks of leaving the abdomen open whenever it might possibly be closed. This potential therapeutic paradigm is the rationale being assessed in the Closed Or Open after Laparotomy (COOL trial) ( ). Initially, the COOL trial received Industry sponsorship; however, this funding mandated the use of a specific trademarked and expensive NPPT device in half of the patients allocated to the intervention (open) arm. In August 2022, the 3 M/Acelity Corporation without consultation but within the terms of the contract canceled the financial support of the trial. Although creating financial difficulty, there is now no restriction on specific NPPT devices and removing a cost-prohibitive intervention creates an opportunity to expand the COOL trial to a truly global basis. This document describes the evolution of the COOL trial, with a focus on future opportunities for global growth of the study.

Methods: The COOL trial is the largest prospective randomized controlled trial examining the random allocation of SCIAS patients intra-operatively to either formal closure of the fascia or the use of the OA with an application of an NPPT dressing. Patients are eligible if they have free uncontained intraperitoneal contamination and physiologic derangements exemplified by septic shock OR severely adverse predicted clinical outcomes. The primary outcome is intended to definitively inform global practice by conclusively evaluating 90-day survival. Initial recruitment has been lower than hoped but satisfactory, and the COOL steering committee and trial investigators intend with increased global support to continue enrollment until recruitment ensures a definitive answer.

Discussion: OA is mandated in many cases of SCIAS such as the risk of abdominal compartment syndrome associated with closure, or a planned second look as for example part of "damage control"; however, improved source control (locally and systemically) is the most uncertain indication for an OA. The COOL trial seeks to expand potential sites and proceed with the evaluation of NPPT agnostic to device, to properly examine the hypothesis that this treatment attenuates systemic damage and improves survival. This approach will not affect internal validity and should improve the external validity of any observed results of the intervention.

Trial registration: National Institutes of Health ( ).

Keywords: Global health; Intraperitoneal sepsis; Laparotomy; Multiple organ dysfunction; Open abdomen; Peritonitis; Randomized controlled trial; Septic shock.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Laparotomy* / adverse effects
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States

Associated data