JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Staged management of the open abdomen and enteroatmospheric fistulae using split-thickness skin grafts.

BACKGROUND: Management of the open abdomen with polyglactin 910 mesh followed by split-thickness skin grafts allows safe, early closure of abdominal wounds. This technique can be modified to manage enteroatmospheric fistulae. Staged ventral hernia is performed in a less inflamed surgical field.

METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of 59 consecutive patients who underwent abdominal skin grafting for open abdominal wounds from 2001 to 2011.

RESULTS: The median length of follow-up was 215 days. Thirty-one percent of patients presented with preexisting enteroatmospheric fistulae, and 41% required polyglactin 910 mesh placement before skin grafting. Partial or complete skin graft failure occurred in 7 patients. Four patients required repeat skin grafting. All patients ultimately achieved abdominal wound closure, and none developed de novo fistulae.

CONCLUSIONS: With proper technique, skin grafting of the open abdomen with a planned ventral hernia repair is a safe and effective alternative to delayed primary closure.

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