Chemical components separation with botulinum toxin A: A novel technique to improve primary fascial closure rates of the open abdomen

M. D. Zielinski, N. Goussous, H. J. Schiller, D. Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Introduction Failure to definitively close the open abdomen (OA) after damage control laparotomy leads to considerable morbidity and mortality. We have developed a novel technique, the 'chemical components separation,' which incorporates injection of botulinum toxin A (BTX), a long-term flaccid paralytic, into the lateral abdominal wall musculature. Methods This is a retrospective review of all OA patients (age C18) from December 2009-June 2010 who underwent BTX injection. Under ultrasound guidance, a total of 300 units of BTX were injected into the external oblique, internal oblique and transversus abdominus. Results A total of 18 patients were injected with a median age of 66 years (56 % male). Indications for OA treatment included questionable bowel viability (39 %), shock (33 %), loss of abdominal domain (6 %) and feculent contamination (17 %). Median ASA score was 3 with an APACHE 3 score of 85. Patients underwent a median of 4 serial abdominal explorations. The primary fascial closure rate was 83 % with a partial fascial closure rate of 6 % and planned ventral hernia rate of 11 %. Of the 9 patients injected within 24 h of their initial OA procedure, 89 % achieved primary fascial closure. Mortality was 11 %; death was unrelated to BTX injection. The overall complication rate was 67 %; specific complications rates included fascial dehiscence (11 %), enterocutaneous fistula development (0 %), intra-abdominal abscess (44 %) and deep surgical site infection (33 %). Conclusion The 'chemical components separation' technique described is safe and avoids the extensive dissection necessary for mechanical components separation in critically ill patients with infected/contaminated abdominal domains. While further evaluation is required, the described technique provides potential to improve delayed primary fascial closure rates in the OA setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Components separation
  • Damage control
  • Hernia
  • Laparotomy
  • Open abdomen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Chemical components separation with botulinum toxin A: A novel technique to improve primary fascial closure rates of the open abdomen'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this