RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Twelve-year experience with expanded polytetrafluoroethylene in the repair of abdominal wall defects.

BACKGROUND: A prosthetic device must be used to repair ventral hernias in patients with insufficient tissue for a tension-free primary closure. Several prosthetic materials have been employed for this purpose, with varying results. We here review a long experience with the use of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) patches in the open repair of large abdominal wall defects.

METHODS: Demographic, operative, follow-up, and histologic data were recorded and analyzed for all patients in a surgical practice who were treated for large abdominal wall defects with open repair using ePTFE patches between November 1983 and March 1996.

RESULTS: Ventral hernia repairs using an ePTFE patch were performed in 98 patients. In 48 (49%), the patient had already undergone at least one previous ventral hernia repair. Of the 98 operations, 78 were full-thickness repairs, 11 were Rives-Stoppa procedures, and 9 were onlay operations. Complications included 5 seromas, 3 fistulas related to removal of a previously implanted prosthesis, and 9 infections. In addition, 10 patients developed recurrent hernias not related to explantation of the patch because of infection or fistula. In 3 patients, infections were treated successfully without removal of the patch. There were no complications related to adhesions, erosion of the patch into the viscera, or bowel obstruction. Histologic studies of longterm ePTFE implants showed excellent fibrous tissue ingrowth and minimal foreign body response.

CONCLUSIONS: Our long-term clinical experience indicates that prosthetic patches of ePTFE are safe and effective when used in the repair of large abdominal wall defects that cannot be closed primarily. Operative complications were within acceptable limits, as was the reherniation rate.

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