Recent developments in the surgical management of complex intra‐abdominal infection. BJS 2017; 104: e65-e74.

Published: 25th January 2017

Authors: M. Soop, G. L. Carlson


Current guidance on the management of sepsis often applies to infection originating from abdominal or pelvic sources, which presents specific challenges and opportunities for efficient and rapid source control. Advances made in the past decade are presented in this article.


A qualitative systematic review was undertaken by searching standard literature databases for English‐language studies presenting original data on the clinical management of abdominal and pelvic complex infection in adults over the past 10 years. High‐quality studies relevant to five topical themes that emerged during review were included.


Important developments and promising preliminary work are presented, relating to: imaging and other diagnostic modalities; antimicrobial therapy and the importance of antimicrobial stewardship; the particular challenges posed by fungal sepsis; novel techniques in percutaneous and endoscopic source control; and current issues relating to surgical source control and managing the abdominal wound. Logistical challenges relating to rapid access to cross‐sectional imaging, interventional radiology and operating theatres need to be addressed so that international benchmarks can be met.


Important advances have been made in the diagnosis, non‐operative and surgical control of abdominal or pelvic sources, which may improve outcomes in the future. Important areas for continued research include the diagnosis and therapy of fungal infection and the challenges of managing the open abdomen.

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