Cutting through the fat: a retrospective analysis of clinical outcomes, cost, and quality of life with the addition of panniculectomy to ventral hernia repair in overweight patients

C E Hutchison, I A Rhemtulla, J T Mauch, R B Broach, F A Enriquez, J A Hernandez, C A Messa, N N Williams, S P Harbison, J P Fischer
Hernia: the Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery 2019, 23 (5): 969-977

BACKGROUND: Due to the increased prevalence of overweight patients with ventral hernia, abdominal wall reconstruction combining ventral hernia repair (VHR) with panniculectomy (VHR-PAN) in overweight patients is increasingly considered. We present a retrospective comparison between VHR-PAN and VHR alone in overweight patients by examining costs, clinical outcomes, and quality of life (QoL).

METHODS: Patients with body mass index (BMI) > 25.0 kg/m2 underwent VHR-PAN or VHR alone between September 2015 and May 2017 with a single surgeon and were matched into cohorts by BMI and age (n = 24 in each cohort). QoL was assessed using the Hernia-related Quality of Life Survey (HerQLes). Cost was assessed using billing data. Statistical analyses were performed using Fisher's exact tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, and regression modeling.

RESULTS: Hernia defect size (p = 0.127), operative time (p = 0.140), mesh placement (p = 0.357), and recurrence rates (p = 0.156) did not vary significantly between cohorts at average follow up of one year. 60% of patients completed QoL surveys, with 61% net improvement in VHR-PAN postoperatively (p = 0.042) vs 36% in VHR alone (p = 0.054). Mean total hospitalization costs were higher for VHR alone (p = 0.019). Regression modeling showed no significant independent contribution of procedure performed due to differences in cost, wound complications, or hernia recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS: At mean follow up of 2 years, VHR-PAN patients reported a comparable increase in QoL to those who received VHR alone without significantly different cost and complication rates. Concurrent VHR-PAN may therefore be a safe approach for overweight patients presenting with hernia and excess abdominal skin.

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