Abdominal wound dehiscence is a surgical complication with a high morbidity rate but which is associated with predictable and preventable factors. During a 10 year period (1966 to 1975), 70 cases were found on the obstetric gynecologic service, and these cases were analyzed to see why dehiscence remains a problem. Those factors contributing to dehiscence include obesity, pre-existing pulmonary and cardiovascular problems, vertical incisions, the triad of ileus, vomiting, and coughing, and, to a lesser extent, hypoproteinemia, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, and wound infection. The incidence of abdominal wound dehiscence would be much lower if high-risk patients were identified, adequate pulmonary toilet was used, ileus was promptly treated with abdominal decompression, and strict attention was paid to electrolyte and protein balance in the pre- and post-operative period. The management of abdominal wound dehiscence is also discussed.
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