JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Vacuum drainage in the management of complicated abdominal wound dehiscence in children.

PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to report the outcomes of the vacuum dressing method (vacuum-assisted closure [VAC]) in the management of "complicated" abdominal wounds in a selected group of children including neonates.

METHODS: All children with vacuum (VAC) dressing-assisted closure of a complex abdominal wound (defined as complete/partial wound dehiscence combined with at least one of stoma, anastomosis, tube enterostomy, or infected patch abdominoplasty) were included in a 2-year study that took place in a single tertiary referral hospital. Retrospective case note analysis was used to determine premorbid diagnosis, management, illness severity markers, morbidity, and outcome.

RESULTS: Nine children (neonate to 16 years) required 11 continuous episodes of VAC therapy. Abdominal wall dehiscence was complete in 7 and partial in 4 episodes. These were complicated by stomas (8), anastomoses (3), enterocutaneous fistulae (3), tube enterostomy (1), and infected patch abdominoplasty (2). Illness severity was assessed by the following proxy physiologic markers: American Society of Anesthesiologists status 3 or more (10), intensive care unit (ICU) (7), inotropes (4), ventilation (7), septic (C-reactive protein >100 and blood culture-positive) (3), liver impairment (aspartate transaminase >58 and alanine transaminase >36) (4), coagulopathy (international normalized ratio >1.3) (4), proinflammatory state (platelet count >450) (5), and nutritional impairment (albumin <37) (9). The median VAC treatment time was 32 days (range, 9-101 days). Of the changes, 70% required a general anesthetic or sedation on ICU. Control of 10 of 11 complex abdominal wounds (including 3 established enterocutaneous fistulae) was achieved using VAC therapy. Complications included nonreduction of laparostomy (1), failure of anastomosis (1), and failure of tube enterostomy diversion (1). Four children died of unrelated causes, 2 of them more than 3 months after VAC therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: In our experience with a small series of patients, VAC therapy is both safe and effective in complex pediatric abdominal wounds in severely ill children. It appears to promote wound closure, controls local sepsis, and can be used to manage established fistulae. However, our results suggest that recent bowel anastomoses may be compromised using VAC, which in this circumstance, should be used with caution.

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