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J Am Coll Surg. 2000 Jun;190(6):688-91.

Pediatric postoperative abdominal wound dehiscence: transverse versus vertical incisions.

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Department of Surgery, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 80105-0371, USA.



Fascial dehiscence is uncommon in children but can have serious consequences when it occurs. There are multiple risk factors for fascial dehiscence, including the type of incision used. Pediatric surgeons often use a supraumbilical transverse incision particularly in infants because of the access this incision provides to the entire abdomen. This article details the experience with fascial wound dehiscence at a large tertiary children's hospital and focuses on problems with the types of incision used.


This is a retrospective review of 2,785 intraabdominal operations performed over a 5-year period at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle. Risk factors for dehiscence were reviewed for each case of fascial dehiscence. Statistical analysis using chi-square was used to examine for differences in complication rates between transverse and vertical incisions.


In this series, 2,442 children (88%) had transverse incisions and 343 (12%) had vertical incisions. Twelve children had abdominal fascial dehiscence post-operatively. Six cases involved transverse incisions and six involved vertical incisions. Five of the children suffered evisceration. One child died as a direct result of the dehiscence. There were multiple risk factors for dehiscence in 10 of the 12 children. Vertical incisions were found to be much more likely to dehisce than were transverse incisions, especially in children under 1 year of age (p < 0.001).


Vertical incisions are more apt to dehisce than transverse incisions in children, particularly babies. We recommend the use of transverse incisions whenever possible in babies less than 1 year of age, especially when other risk factors for dehiscence are present.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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