Abdominal sepsis

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Purpose of review

To summarize the recent evidence on the treatment of abdominal sepsis with a specific emphasis on the surgical treatment.

Recent findings

A multitude of surgical approaches towards abdominal sepsis are practised. Recent evidence shows that immediate closure of the abdomen has a better outcome. A short course of antibiotics has a similar effect as a long course of antibiotics in patients with intra-abdominal infection without severe sepsis.


Management of abdominal sepsis requires a multidisciplinary approach. Closing the abdomen permanently after source control and only reopening it in case of deterioration of the patient without other (percutaneous) options is the preferred strategy. There is no convincing evidence that damage control surgery is beneficial in patients with abdominal sepsis. If primary closure of the abdomen is impossible because of excessive visceral edema, delayed closure using negative pressure therapy with continuous mesh-mediated fascial traction shows the best results.

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