JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Recommendations on postoperative strain and physical labor after abdominal and hernia surgery: an expert survey of attendants of the 41st EHS Annual International Congress of the European Hernia Society.

BACKGROUND: There are no valid recommendations or reliable guidelines available to guide patients how long they should refrain from lifting weights or returning to heavy physical labor after abdominal or hernia surgery. Recent studies found that surgeons' recommendations not to be evidence-based and might be too restrictive considering data on fascial healing and incisional hernia development. It is likely that this impairs the patient's quality of life and leads to remarkable socio-economic costs. Hence, we conducted this survey to gather international expert's opinions on this topic.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: At the 41st Annual International Congress of the EHS, attending international experts were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning recommendations on given proposals for postoperative refrain from heavy work or lifting after abdominal surgery and also after hernia repairs.

RESULTS: In total, 127 experts took part in the survey. 83.9% were consultants with a mean experience since specialization of more than 11 years. Two weeks of no heavy physical strain after laparoscopic surgery were considered sufficient by more than 50% of the participants. For laparotomy, more than 50% rated 4 weeks appropriate. For mesh-augmented sublay and IPOM repair of ventral or incisional hernias, more than 50% rated 4 weeks of rest appropriate. For complex hernia repair, 37% rated 4 weeks reasonable. Two weeks after, groin hernia surgery was considered sufficient by more than 50% of the participants.

CONCLUSION: Following groin hernia repair (Lichtenstein/endoscopic technique) and laparoscopic operation, the majority agreed on the proposal of 2 weeks refraining from physical strain. Four weeks of no physical strain were considered appropriate by a majority after laparotomy and open incisional hernia repair. However, the results showed substantial variation in the ratings, which indicates uncertainty even in this selected cohort of hernia surgery experts and emphasizes the need for further scientific evaluation. This is particularly remarkable, because a lack of evidence that early postoperative strain leads to higher incisional hernia rates.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Number DRKS00023887.

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