Damage control surgery

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Purpose of review

Damage control surgery (DCS) has become a lifesaving maneuver for critically injured patients when utilized in appropriate scenarios. Despite this reality, indications for initiating DCS remain debated.

Recent findings

Despite discussion surrounding the appropriate indications for DCS, this series of fundamental principles includes a rapidly abbreviated operative intervention aimed at arresting ongoing hemorrhage and containing gastrointestinal contamination in a patient approaching physiologic exhaustion, which includes both vascular and nonvascular damage control techniques, in addition to management of the open abdomen. Patients are then returned to the operating theater for definitive reconstruction once their physiology has been stabilized within the ICU.


DCS is lifesaving when applied in appropriate clinical scenarios involving critically injured patients. Overuse of this technique can lead to increased patient morbidity and cost however.

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