Greater risk of incisional hernia with morbidly obese than steroid-dependent patients and low recurrence with prefascial polypropylene mesh

H J Sugerman, J M Kellum, H D Reines, E J DeMaria, H H Newsome, J W Lowry
American Journal of Surgery 1996, 171 (1): 80-4

BACKGROUND: Incisional hernia is a serious complication of abdominal surgery. We compared incisional hernia frequency following gastric bypass (GBP) for morbid obesity versus total abdominal colectomy and ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) for ulcerative colitis. A prefascial polypropylene mesh repair was also evaluated.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients had midline incisions, xiphoid to umbilicus in GBP patients and midepigastrium to pubis in IPAA patients. Fascia were closed with running No. 2 polyglycolic acid suture. Ninety-eight patients underwent prefascial polypropylene mesh repair; 80 were GBP patients, 46 had 1 previous repair, and 17 had 2 to 9 previous repairs (6 with properitoneal mesh).

RESULTS: Incisional hernia occurred in 20% (198/968) of GBP patients (19% without versus 41% with a previous hernia, P < 0.001) versus 4% (7/171) of the IPAA patients (P < 0.001), of whom 102 (60%) were taking prednisone (32 +/- 2 mg/d) and 5 were quite obese (body mass index > or = 30 kg/m2). Additional risk factors for hernia in GBP patients included wound infection, diabetes, sleep apnea, and obesity hypoventilation. For the 98 patients who underwent prefascial polypropylene mesh repair, the mean follow-up was 20 +/- 2 months (range 6 to 104), and complications occurred in 35% of patients, including minor wound infection (12%), major wound infection (5%), seroma (5%), hematoma (3%), chronic pain (6%), and recurrent hernia (4%).

CONCLUSIONS: Severe obesity is a greater risk factor for incisional hernia and hernia recurrence than chronic steroid use in nonobese colitis patients. A prefascial polypropylene mesh repair minimizes recurrence.

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