Original report. The abdominal compartment syndrome: CT findings

Perry J. Pickhardt*, Joshua S. Shimony, Jay P. Heiken, Timothy G. Buchman, Andrew J. Fisher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The abdominal compartment syndrome is a potentially fatal condition resulting from pathologic elevation of intraabdominal pressure. We evaluated preoperative abdominal CT scans of four patients with proven abdominal compartment syndrome to identify signs of increased intraabdominal pressure. CONCLUSION. CT findings common to all four patients included tense infiltration of the retroperitoneum out of proportion to peritoneal disease, extrinsic compression of the inferior vena cava by retroperitoneal hemorrhage or exudate, and massive abdominal distention with an increased ratio of anteroposterior-to-transverse abdominal diameter (positive round belly sign; ratio > .80; p < .001). Direct renal compression or displacement, bowel wall thickening with enhancement, and bilateral inguinal herniation were each present in two of the four patients. Radiologists should be aware of this life-threatening syndrome. In the appropriate clinical setting, CT findings of increased intraabdominal pressure should be swiftly communicated to other physicians involved in treating the patient because the abdominal compartment syndrome requires emergent surgical decompression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-579
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999


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