A systematic review on surgical treatment of primary epigastric hernias

L Blonk, Y A Civil, R Kaufmann, J C F Ket, S van der Velde
Hernia: the Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery 2019, 23 (5): 847-857

OBJECTIVE: In this systematic review, we evaluated all literature reporting on the surgical treatment of primary epigastric hernias, primarily focusing on studies comparing laparoscopic and open repair, and mesh reinforcement and suture repair.

METHODS: A literature search was conducted in, PubMed and the Cochrane Library up to 24 April 2019. This review explicitly excluded literature on incisional hernias, ventral hernias not otherwise specified, and isolated (para)umbilical hernias. Primary outcome measures of interest were early and late postoperative complications.

RESULTS: We obtained a total of 8516 articles and after a strict selection only seven retrospective studies and one randomised controlled trial (RCT) on treatment of primary epigastric hernia were included. In one study (RCT) laparoscopic repair led to less postoperative pain (VAS) compared to open repair (3.6 versus 2.4, p < 0.001). No significant differences in early postoperative complications and recurrences were observed. Mesh reinforcement was associated with lower recurrence rates than suture repair in two studies (2.2% versus 5.6%, p  = 0.001 and 3.1% versus 14.7%, p = 0.0475). This result was not sustained in all studies. No differences were observed in early postoperative complications after mesh or suture repair.

CONCLUSIONS: This review demonstrated that studies investigating surgical treatment of primary epigastric hernias are scarce. The best available evidence suggests that mesh reinforcement in primary epigastric hernia repair possibily leads to less recurrences and that laparoscopic repair leads to less postoperative pain. Due to the high risk of selection bias of included studies and heterogenic study populations, no clear recommendations can be conducted. High-quality studies with well-defined patient groups and clear endpoints, primarily focusing on primary epigastric hernias, are mandatory.

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