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Surgery. 1986 Apr;99(4):399-408.

The septic abdomen: open management with Marlex mesh with a zipper.


The "open" abdomen has gained popularity in the management of severe intraabdominal sepsis. Drawbacks include evisceration, need for ventilator support, and recurrent abdominal sepsis. We have applied a more aggressive and effective technique consisting of abdominal "closure" with a Marlex mesh sheet containing a zipper. Manual exploration and lavage is performed daily through the zipper in the surgical intensive care unit. Ten patients with severe abdominal sepsis were treated for the following: fecal peritonitis (three patients), radiation enteritis with fistula (one patient), diverticular abscess and dehiscence (one patient), diffuse postoperative abdominal sepsis (two patients), and necrotizing pancreatitis (three patients). Thirteen meshes were inserted, four at first operation and nine at the second to sixth operations. Eight patients survived (80%). Only three patients required respirators; two died. Two patients underwent drainage of three defined abscesses in the surgical intensive care unit. Three patients underwent five major operations through the zipper. Intestinal stomas were present adjacent to the mesh in six patients and were not a management problem. No fistulas resulted from this technique. The Marlex/zipper was removed when all septic signs abated and adhesions were allowed to form (average of 10 to 12 days). Daily aggressive manual lavage of the abdomen through a Marlex mesh/zipper is rapid, simple, and well tolerated. It has permitted effective management of severe septic peritonitis and easier wound care. This technique merits further controlled trials to ascertain its ultimate benefit in survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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