The principles of abdominal wound closure

E J Meijer, L Timmermans, J Jeekel, J F Lange, F E Muysoms
Acta Chirurgica Belgica 2013, 113 (4): 239-44

BACKGROUND: Incisional hernia (IH) is a common complication of abdominal surgery. Its incidence has been reported as high as 39.9%. Many factors influence IH rates. Of these, surgical technique is the only factor directly controlled by the surgeon. There is much evidence in the literature on the optimal midline laparotomy closure technique. Despite the high level of evidence, this optimal closure technique has not met wide acceptance in the surgical community. In preparation of a clinical trial, the PRINCIPLES trial, a literature review was conducted to find the best evidence based technique for abdominal wall closure after midline laparotomy.

METHODS: An Embase search was performed. Articles describing closure of the fascia after midline laparotomy by different suture techniques and/or suture materials were selected.

RESULTS: Fifteen studies were identified, including five meta-analyses. Analysis of the literature showed significant lower IH rates with single layer closure, using a continuous technique with slowly absorbable suture material. No significant difference in IH incidence was found comparing slowly absorbable and non absorbable sutures. Furthermore, a suture length to wound length ratio of four or more and short stitch length significantly decreased IH rates.

CONCLUSIONS: Careful analysis of the literature indicates that an evidenced based optimal midline laparotomy closure technique can be identified. This technique involves single layer closure with a running suture, using a slowly absorbable suture with a suture length to wound length ratio of four or more and a short stitch length. We adopt this technique as the PRINCIPLES technique.

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