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Intra-abdominal pressure and abdominal compartment syndrome in acute general surgery.BACKGROUND: Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is a harbinger of intra-abdominal mischief, and its measurement is cheap, simple to perform, and reproducible. Intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH), especially grades 3 and 4 (IAP > 18 mmHg), occurs in over a third of patients and is associated with an increase in intra-abdominal sepsis, bleeding, renal failure, and death. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Increased IAP reading may provide an objective bedside stimulus for surgeons to expedite diagnostic and therapeutic work-up of critically ill patients. One of the greatest challenges surgeons and intensivists face worldwide is lack of recognition of the known association between IAH, ACS, and intra-abdominal sepsis. This lack of awareness of IAH and its progression to ACS may delay timely intervention and contribute to excessive patient resuscitation. CONCLUSIONS: All patients entering the intensive care unit (ICU) after emergency general surgery or massive fluid resuscitation should have an IAP measurement performed every 6 h. Each ICU should have guidelines relating to techniques of IAP measurement and an algorithm for management of IAH.