Management of abdominal wound dehiscence using vacuum assisted closure in patients with compromised healing

Lior Heller, Scott L. Levin, Charles E. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Background: Restoration of the abdominal wall's integrity after postoperative wound dehiscence is frequently performed in a delayed fashion, necessitating a temporary dressing of the dehisced wound. Methods: The Vacuum Assisted Closure (VAC) system (Kinetic Concepts, Inc., San Antonio, TX) was used in 21 patients with postoperative abdominal wound dehiscences that could not be closed immediately and who were at high risk for healing complications. The VAC device was used in conjunction with sharp debridement and it was maintained on a continuous mode with a negative pressure of -75 to -125 mm Hg. The dressing was changed every 2 days. VAC therapy was continued until the integrity of the abdominal wall was reestablished by surgical procedures or secondary healing. Results: Thirteen patients had fascial dehiscence, and 9 of them had frank bowel exposure. Definitive fascial closure was performed in 9 of 13 patients with fascial dehiscence. Stable cutaneous coverage was subsequently achieved in all patients by local abdominal skin flap advancement (6), skin grafting (9), or secondary intention healing (6). Seven patients had part of their VAC therapy as outpatients. The complications included a low-output small bowel enterocutaneous fistula in 2 patients and partial skin graft loss in 1 patient. The fistulae resolved after operative treatment (1) or conservative treatment (1). Conclusion: Integration of the VAC system in the management of post-laparotomy wound dehiscence in patients with compromised wound healing appears to be successful and should be considered in such patients to provide a stable, healed wound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Abdomen
  • Fascia
  • Hernia
  • Laparotomy
  • Surgical flaps
  • Surgical mesh
  • Surgical wound dehiscence
  • Vacuum
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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