Effect of suture technique on the occurrence of incisional hernia after elective midline abdominal wall closure: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

René H Fortelny, Petra Baumann, Wolfgang E Thasler, Markus Albertsmeier, Stefan Riedl, Wolfgang Steurer, Jan Ludolf Kewer, Andreas Shamiyeh
Trials 2015 February 15, 16: 52

BACKGROUND: Based on a recent meta-analysis, a continuous suture technique with a suture to wound length ratio of at least 4:1, using a slowly absorbable monofilament suture material, is recommended for primary median laparotomy closure. Incisional hernia, which develops in 9 to 20% of patients, remains the major complication of abdominal wall closure. Current clinical data indicate that the incidence of incisional hernias increases by 60% between the first and the third year after median laparotomy, implicating that a follow-up period of 1 year postoperatively is too short with regard to this common complication. Trauma to the abdominal wall can be reduced by improvements in suture technique as well as suture material. Several factors, such as stitch length, suture tension, elasticity, and tensile strength of the suture material are discussed and currently under investigation. A Swedish randomized controlled trial showed a significant reduction in the incisional hernia rate by shortening the stitch length. However, a non-elastic thread was used and follow-up ended after 12 months. Therefore, we designed a multicenter, international, double-blinded, randomized trial to analyze the influence of stitch length, using an elastic, extra-long term absorbable monofilament suture, on the long term clinical outcome of abdominal wall closure.

METHODS: In total, 468 patients undergoing an elective, median laparotomy will be randomly allocated to either the short stitch or the long stitch suture technique for abdominal wall closure in a 1:1 ratio. Centers located in Germany and Austria will participate. The primary endpoint measure is the incisional hernia rate 1 year postoperatively, as verified by ultrasound. The frequency of short term and long term complications as well as costs, length of hospital stay and patients' quality of life (EQ-5D-5 L) will be considered as secondary parameters. Following hospital discharge, patients will be examined after 30 days and 1, 3, and 5 years after surgery.

DISCUSSION: This study will provide further evidence on whether a short stitch suture technique in combination with an elastic, extra-long term absorbable monofilament suture can prevent incisional hernias in the long term, compared with the long stitch suture technique.


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