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Abdominal wall integrity after open abdomen: long-term results of vacuum-assisted wound closure and mesh-mediated fascial traction (VAWCM)

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The open abdomen has become a standard technique in the management of critically ill patients undergoing surgery for severe intra-abdominal conditions. Negative pressure and mesh-mediated fascial traction are commonly used and achieve low fistula rates and high fascial closure rates. In this study, long-term results of a standardised treatment approach are presented.


Fifty-five patients who underwent OA management for different indications at our institution from 2006 to 2013 were enrolled. All patients were treated under a standardised algorithm that uses a combination of vacuum-assisted wound closure and mesh-mediated fascial traction. Structured follow-up assessments were offered to patients and included a medical history, a clinical examination and abdominal ultrasonography. The data obtained were statistically analysed.


The fascial closure rate was 74 % in an intention-to-treat analysis and 89 % in a per-protocol analysis. The fistula rate was 1.8 %. Thirty-four patients attended follow-up. The median follow-up was 46 months (range 12–88 months). Incisional hernias developed in 35 %. Patients with hernias needed more operative procedures (10.3 vs 3.4, p = 0.03) than patients without hernia formation. A Patient Observer Scar Assessment Scale (POSAS) of 31.1 was calculated. Patients with symptomatic hernias (NAS of 2–10) had a significantly lower mean POSAS score (p = 0.04).


Vacuum-assisted wound closure and mesh-mediated fascial traction (VAWCM) seem to result in low complication rates and high fascial closure rates. Abdominal wall reconstruction, which is a challenging and complex procedure and causes considerable patient discomfort, can thus be avoided in the majority of cases. Available results are based on studies involving only a small number of cases. Multi-centre studies and registry-based data are therefore needed to validate these findings.

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Correspondence to A. Willms.

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All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The results reported here have been presented in a yet unpublished doctoral thesis.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Willms, A., Schaaf, S., Schwab, R. et al. Abdominal wall integrity after open abdomen: long-term results of vacuum-assisted wound closure and mesh-mediated fascial traction (VAWCM). Hernia 20, 849–858 (2016).

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