Introduction. Increased intraabdominal pressure (IAP) is associated with higher complication and mortality rates. Decompressive surgery is the most effective treatment for abdominal hypertension in trauma and septic patients with IAP. Objective. To establish the association between IAP, complications, and mortality and to evaluate morbidity and mortality after decompressive surgery. Material and method. We performed a prospective, analytical, longitudinal study designed in 2 phases. In the first phase, 17 patients (mean age = 66 years, range: 39-78) admitted to the intensive care unit who underwent abdominal surgery were studied. In the second phase, 47 patients (mean age = 65 years, range: 48-78) underwent decompressive surgery, 6 for abdominal trauma and 41 for postoperative peritonitis. In both phases, all patients were fitted with urinary, arterial, and pulmonary artery catheters. The following variables were recorded: hemodynamic, respiratory and renal parameters; IAP, APACHE II, complications, and mortality. Results. Patients with complications had significantly higher mean IAP (12.3 mm Hg; 95% CI, 10.7-13.9) than those without complications (7.9 mm Hg; 95% CI, 4.7-11.1) (p = 0.004). Patients that survived had a significantly lower mean IAP (8.7 mm Hg; 95% CI, 5.9-11.5) than those that died (12.4 mm Hg; 95% CI, 10.2-14.7) (p = 0.03). In patients who underwent decompressive surgery, a significant difference was found between APACHE II predicted mortality (40.4%) and observed mortality (25.5%) (p = 0.02). One patient with decompressive surgery developed an intestinal fistula. Conclusions. Controlling IAP, prophylaxis against abdominal hypertension, recognizing abdominal hypertension and decompressive surgery are new parameters and new concepts to be considered in the treatment of critical surgical patients.
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