Intra-abdominal hypertension has been recognized as a source of morbidity and mortality in the traumatized patient following laparotomy. Multiple organ dysfunction attributable to intra-abdominal hypertension has been called the abdominal compartment syndrome. The epidemiology and characteristics of these processes remain poorly defined.
Intra-abdominal pressure was measured prospectively in all patients admitted to a trauma intensive care unit over 9 months. Data were gathered on all patients with intra-abdominal hypertension.
Some 706 patients were evaluated. Fifteen (2 per cent) of 706 patients had intra-abdominal hypertension. Six of the 15 patients with intra-abdominal hypertension had abdominal compartment syndrome. Half of the patients with abdominal compartment syndrome died, as did two of the remaining nine patients with intra-abdominal hypertension. Patients with abdominal compartment syndrome had a mean intra-abdominal pressure of 42 mmHg compared with 26 mmHg in patients with intra-abdominal hypertension only (P < 0·05).
The incidence of intra-abdominal hypertension and abdominal compartment syndrome was 2 and 1 per cent respectively. Intra-abdominal hypertension did not necessarily lead to abdominal compartment syndrome, and often resolved without clinical sequelae. Abdominal compartment syndrome did not occur in the absence of earlier laparotomy. Abdominal compartment syndrome was associated with a marked increase in intra-abdominal pressure (above 40 mmHg). © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd