As the abdomen is a closed cavity, it follows that any increase in abdominal contents will inexorably lead to a rise in the intra-abdominal pressure. Normally this is less than 7 mm Hg, but when it persistently exceeds 12 mm Hg, renal, intestinal, pulmonary, cardiovascular and central nervous system dysfunction arises. A wide range of conditions encountered in both medical and surgical intensive care units are associated with a rise in intra-abdominal pressure. When this pressure is continually above 20 mm Hg, organ system failure can occur, a condition known as abdominal compartment syndrome. Failure to recognise and treat this syndrome is associated with a high morbidity and mortality.
- intra-abdominal hypertension
- intra-abdominal pressure
- abdominal compartment syndrome
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Competing interests: None.
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