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Long-term complications associated with prosthetic repair of incisional hernias.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the type of prosthetic material and technique of placement influenced long-term complications after repair of incisional hernias.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort analytic study.

SETTING: University-affiliated hospital.

PATIENTS: Two hundred patients undergoing open repair of abdominal incisional hernias with prosthetic material between 1985 and 1994.

INTERVENTIONS: Four types of prosthetic material were used and placed either as an onlay, underlay, sandwich, or finger interdigitation technique. The materials were monofilamented polypropylene mesh (Marlex, Davol Inc, Cranston, RI), double-filamented mesh (Prolene, Ethicon Inc, Somerville, NJ), expanded polytetrafluroethylene patch (Gore-Tex, WL Gore & Associates, Phoenix, Ariz) or multifilamented polyester mesh (Mersilene, Ethicon Inc).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The incidence of recurrence and complications such as enterocutaneous fistula, bowel obstruction, and infection with each type of material and technique of repair were compared with univariate and multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: On univariate analysis, multifilamented polyester mesh had a significantly higher mean number of complications per patient (4.7 vs 1.4-2.3; P<.002), a higher incidence of fistula formation (16% vs 0%-2%; P<.001), a greater number of infections (16% vs 0%-6%; P<.05), and more recurrent hernias (34% vs 10%-14%; P<.05) than the other materials used. The additional mean length of stay to treat complications was also significantly longer (30 vs 3-7 days; P<.001) when polyester mesh was used. The deleterious effect of polyester mesh on long-term complications was confirmed on multiple logistic regression (P=.002). The technique of placement had no influence on outcome.

CONCLUSION: Polyester mesh should no longer be used for incisional hernia repair.

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