JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Temporary abdominal closure followed by definitive abdominal wall reconstruction of the open abdomen.

BACKGROUND: Inability to close the abdominal wall after laparotomy for trauma may occur as a result of visceral edema, retroperitoneal hematoma, use of packing, and traumatic loss of tissue. Often life-saving, decompressive laparotomy and temporary abdominal closure require later restoration of anatomic continuity of the abdominal wall.

METHODS: The trauma registry, open abdomen database, and patient medical records at a level 1 university-based trauma center were reviewed from January 1988 to December 2001.

RESULTS: During the study period, more than 15,000 trauma patients were admitted, with 88 patients (0.6%) requiring temporary abdominal closure (TAC). Patients ages ranged from 12 to 75 years with a mean injury severity score (ISS) of 28 (range 5 to 54). Forty-five patients (51%) suffered penetrating injuries, and 43 (49%) were victims of blunt trauma. Indications for TAC included visceral edema in 61 patients (70%), abdominal compartment syndrome in 10 patients (11%), traumatic tissue loss in 9 patients (10%), and wound sepsis and fascial necrosis in 8 patients (9%). Fifty-six patients (64%) underwent TAC at admission laparotomy, whereas 32 patients (36%) required TAC at reexploration. Seventy-one patients (81%) survived and 17 (19%) died. Of the survivors, 24 patients (34%) underwent same-admission direct fascial closure, and 47 patients (66%) required visceral skin grafting and readmission closure. Reconstructive procedures in the patients requiring skin graft excision included direct fascial repair (20 patients, 44%), components separation closure with or without subfascial tissue expansion (18 patients, 40%), pedicled or free-tissue flaps (4 patients, 8%), and mesh repair (4 patients, 8%). One patient refused closure. The mean follow-up was 48 months (range 6 to 144), with an overall recurrence rate of 15% (range 10% to 50%), highest in the mesh repair group.

CONCLUSIONS: Silicone sheeting TAC provides a safe and reliable temporary abdominal closure allowing for later definitive reconstruction. Direct fascial repair or components separation closure with or without tissue expansion can be utilized in the majority of patients for definitive reconstruction with low recurrence rate.

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