Reclosure of the open abdomen

D. Sleeman, J. L. Sosa, A. Gonzalez, M. McKenney, I. Puente, L. Matos, L. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The open abdomen technique for the treatment of diffuse peritonitis has gained acceptance. Our approach has been to use the zipper technique with daily irrigations. Once the abdominal problem has resolved, the mesh and zipper are removed. Surgeons are reluctant to reoperate on patients with such prior treatment because of the anticipation of a hostile abdomen. Our study is a retrospective review of 12 patients who were treated with the open abdomen technique. At a later date, they underwent elective reoperation. STUDY DESIGN: The charts of 12 patients were reviewed. After initial injury, the patients were in the surgical intensive care unit. Reoperations were performed nine months (mean) after discharge from this facility. The reasons for reoperations were closure of enteric fistula (five patients) and closure of an ostomy (seven patients). The abdominal wall was reconstructed in nine patients. In the other three patients, the abdomen was entered through a lateral incision and the bowel was reanastomosed. RESULTS: All of the patients survived. There were five complications. Two patients had ischemic skin grafts successfully treated by hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO). Two patients had ischemic skin flaps that were covering mesh. They responded to HBO with minimal slough of superficial tissue. One patient had a low output fistula that closed after two weeks of total parenteral nutrition. CONCLUSIONS: A history of an open abdomen is not a contraindication to later operation. Bowel continuity can be restored and abdominal wall reconstruction can be performed safely. This can be done as early as three to four months after recovery from the original injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-204
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Reclosure of the open abdomen'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this