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Abdominal compartment syndrome: A concise clinical review

An, Gary MD; West, Michael A. MD, PhD

Section Editor(s): Dellinger, R Phillip MD, FCCM, Section Editor

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31816929f4
Concise Definitive Review

Objective: There has been an increased awareness of the presence and clinical importance of abdominal compartment syndrome. It is now appreciated that elevations of abdominal pressure occur in a wide variety of critically ill patients. Full-blown abdominal compartment syndrome is a clinical syndrome characterized by progressive intra-abdominal organ dysfunction resulting from elevated intra-abdominal pressure. This review provides a current, clinically focused approach to the diagnosis and management of abdominal compartment syndrome, with a particular emphasis on intensive care.

Methods: Source data were obtained from a PubMed search of the medical literature, with an emphasis on the time period after 2000. PubMed “related articles” search strategies were likewise employed frequently. Additional information was derived from the Web site of the World Society of the Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (http://www.wsacs.org).

Summary and Conclusions: The detrimental impact of elevated intra-abdominal pressure, progressing to abdominal compartment syndrome, is recognized in both surgical and medical intensive care units. The recent international abdominal compartment syndrome consensus conference has helped to define, characterize, and raise awareness of abdominal compartment syndrome. Because of the frequency of this condition, routine measurement of intra-abdominal pressure should be performed in high-risk patients in the intensive care unit. Evidence-based interventions can be used to minimize the risk of developing elevated intra-abdominal pressure and to aggressively treat intra-abdominal hypertension when identified. Surgical decompression remains the gold standard for rapid, definitive treatment of fully developed abdominal compartment syndrome, but nonsurgical measures can often effectively affect lesser degrees of intra-abdominal hypertension and abdominal compartment syndrome.

From the Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL.

For information regarding this article, E-mail: mwest@northwestern.edu

© 2008 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins