Background Studies in emergency surgical patients have shown that raised intra-abdominal pressure may adversely affect organ function. The major aim of the present study was to establish the incidence of intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) in patients undergoing major elective abdominal surgery. A secondary aim was to determine if the development of IAH was associated with poorer outcome.
Methods Patients undergoing major elective general surgical procedures were recruited to a prospective study in which intra-abdominal pressure was measured for 72 h postoperatively. Outcome data were collected on all patients.
Results A total of 42 patients with a median age of 63.5 years were studied. Five patients (12%) developed IAH, but this did not lead to a significant increase in the incidence of major organ dysfunction. There was no significant difference in the median length of hospital stay. However the development of IAH was associated with delayed return to oral diet (p < 0.05).
Conclusions Intra-abdominal hyhpertension occurs in 12% of patients following major elective abdominal surgery and leads to a significantly delayed return to oral diet, but not to an increased length of hospital stay or increased incidence of major organ dysfunction.