Open Abdomen in Trauma and Critical Care

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The open abdomen technique and temporary abdominal closure after damage control surgery is fast becoming the standard of care for managing intra-abdominal bleeding and infectious or ischemic processes in critically ill patients. Expansion of this technique has evolved from damage control surgery in severely injured trauma patients to use in patients with abdominal compartment syndrome due to acute pancreatitis and other disorders. Subsequent therapies after use of the open abdomen technique and temporary abdominal closure are resuscitation in the intensive care unit and planned reoperation to manage the underlying cause of bleeding, infection, or ischemia. Determining the need for this potentially lifesaving intervention and managing the wound after the open abdomen has been created are all within the realm of critical care nurses. Case studies illustrate the implementation of the open abdomen technique and patient management strategies.

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