Awareness and knowledge of intra-abdominal hypertension and abdominal compartment syndrome: results of an international survey

Page hits: 2828, File downloaded: 597

Download file

Download this file

Open in browser

Open this file in your browser


Robert Wise, Derek J. Roberts, Stefanie Vandervelden, Dieter Debergh, Jan J. De Waele, Inneke De laet, Andrew W. Kirkpatrick, Bart L. De Keulenaer, Manu L.N.G. Malbrain



Surveys have demonstrated a lack of physician awareness of intra-abdominal hypertension and abdominal compartment syndrome (IAH/ACS) and wide variations in the management of these conditions, with many intensive care units (ICUs) reporting that they do not measure intra-abdominal pressure (IAP). We sought to determine the association between publication of the 2006/2007 World Society of the Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (WSACS) Consensus Definitions and Guidelines and IAH/ACS clinical awareness and management.


The WSACS Executive Committee created an interactive online survey with 53 questions, accessible from November 2006 until December 2008. The survey was endorsed by the WSACS, the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). A link to the survey was emailed to all members of the supporting societies. Participants of the 3rd World Congress on Abdominal Compartment Syndrome meeting (March 2007, Antwerp, Belgium) were also asked to complete the questionnaire. No reminders were sent. Based on 13 knowledge questions, an overall score was calculated (expressed as percentage).


A total of 2,244 of the approximately 10,000 clinicians who were sent the survey responded (response rate: 22.4%). Most of the 2,244 respondents (79.2%) completing the survey were physicians or physicians in training and the majority were residing in North America (53.0%). The majority of responders (85%) were familiar with IAP/IAH/ACS, but only 28% were aware of the WSACS consensus definitions for IAH/ACS. Three quarters of respondents considered the cut-off for IAH to be at least 15 mm Hg, and nearly two thirds believed the cut-off for ACS was higher than the currently suggested consensus definition (20 mm Hg). In 67.8% of respondents, organ dysfunction was only considered a problem with IAP of 20 mm Hg or higher. IAP was measured most frequently via the bladder (91.9%), but the majority reported that they instilled volumes well above the current guidelines. Surgical decompression was frequently used to treat IAH/ACS, whereas medical management was only attempted by about half of the respondents. Decisions to decompress the abdomen were predominantly based on the severity of IAP elevation and presence of organ dysfunction (74.4%). Overall knowledge scores were low (43 ± 15%); respondents who were aware of the WSACS had a better score compared to those who were not (49.6% vs 38.6%, P < 0.001).


This survey showed that although most responding clinicians claim to be familiar with IAH and ACS, knowledge of published consensus definitions, measurement techniques, and clinical management is inadequate.

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

Social Media

  like us on Facebook

  follow us on Twitter

  join Discussion group

  join us on Linkedin

  newsletter sign up

  post on the blog