Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (ACS) in Children

January 15, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Children are often known for their carefree attitudes and carelessness – resulting in bumps, bruises, scrapes, and other injuries. While minor boo-boos can be turned into little life lessons, major accidents that result in swelling and bleeding — specifically in the abdomen — can lead to more life-threatening conditions like abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS). What is ACS, and how can it be treated?

What is abdominal compartment syndrome?

Compartment syndrome occurs when pressure builds up inside an enclosed muscle space within the body. This typically happens when bleeding or swelling results from an injury. The pressure impedes the flow of blood to and from the impacted tissue. If left unresolved, the condition can result in permanent injury.

Abdominal compartment syndrome works in a similar manner but is life-threatening and occurs to the abdomen. ACS occurs after intra-abdominal pressure rises to 20 mmHg, and new organ dysfunction or failure occurs. It’s a condition that happens with other illnesses and diseases, and the exact cause is unknown – although sepsis and severe abdominal trauma can play a significant role.

Abdominal Compartment Syndrome Symptoms

ACS typically only occurs in critically ill patients. This may include patients who are on life support and unable to describe their own symptoms. Despite these disheartening situations, the most common symptoms of abdominal compartment syndrome include:

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased or insufficient urination
  • A tense, distended abdomen
  • Wincing when the abdomen is pressed
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate

Abdominal Compartment Syndrome Risk Factors

ACS occurs when the intra-abdominal pressure increases to 20 mmHg, but there are other risk factors that doctors may monitor. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Major trauma/burns
  • High BMI
  • Central obesity
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Ascites

Abdominal Compartment Syndrome Treatment

Unfortunately, the mortality rate for children — or anyone — with ACS is significant, ranging between 60 – 70%. Surgical decompression improves the organ’s chances and is typically followed by a temporary abdominal closure technique in order to prevent secondary intra-abdominal hypertension.

During surgical decompression, the abdominal wall and abdominal fascia anterior are opened in order to create more space for the abdominal viscera. Once opened, the fascia can be supported. A variety of medical devices are used for negative pressure wound therapy to prevent the loss of domain. Throughout treatment, intra-abdominal pressure is monitored.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child who has abdominal compartment syndrome. You can feel helpless and want to spend every minute of your day with your child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids are here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you are considering pediatric home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.