The technique of visceral packing: recommended management of difficult fascial closure in trauma patients

J S Bender, C E Bailey, J M Saxe, A M Ledgerwood, C E Lucas
Journal of Trauma 1994, 36 (2): 182-5
Since 1986, we have cared for 17 patients whose abdomen could not be closed because of bowel edema and loss of abdominal wall compliance. These patients were managed by a technique of visceral packing with the intestines kept in place by a combination of rayon cloth, gauze packs, and retention sutures. This packing was changed in the operating room under general anesthesia until the edema was sufficiently resolved to allow for closure. Two patients died within 24 hours of operation from irreversible shock. The remaining 15 patients had their fascia successfully closed with an average of two additional anesthetics. There was one case of fasciitis associated with the development of an intra-abdominal abscess and one patient died of late sepsis. There was no early postoperative ventilatory compromise or acute oliguric renal failure. Other direct complications have been minor with no enterocutaneous fistulae, dehiscence, or incisional hernia. Visceral packing of posttraumatic abdominal wounds circumvents expected complications of intraperitoneal hypertension and enhances the chance for survival. Its ease and low morbidity also lends itself to a wide variety of other uses.

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