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Keywords:

  • Acute pancreatitis;
  • Laparostomy;
  • Negative pressure therapy;
  • Open abdomen;
  • Vacuum dressing

Wound control in laparostomy for the treatment of intra-abdominal hypertension remains challenging and numerous techniques have been described. We report the first UK experience with a new commercially available device specifically designed to facilitate management of the open abdomen. A 44-year-old gentleman presented with a 3-day history of constant severe epigastric pain and associated vomiting. Amylase was markedly elevated and he was admitted for supportive management of pancreatitis, with subsequent transfer to intensive care due to severe systemic inflammatory syndrome. The patient decompensated, developing intra-abdominal hypertension with renal and respiratory failure. This was successfully managed by performing a laparostomy and using an ABThera™ Open Abdomen Negative Pressure Therapy System (KCI, San Antonio, TX). We describe its use to facilitate wound control, including enteroatmospheric fistula, allowing granulation and eventual restoration of gastrointestinal continuity 383-days after admission. We found the ABThera™ System proved to be a useful treatment adjunct, protecting intra-abdominal contents while removing large volumes of exudate and infected material from within the abdominal cavity. Complex cases such as this remain infrequent and this article provides a summary of our experience, including a review of indications for laparostomy and the underlying basic science in this difficult area.