Recalcitrant abdominal wall hernias: Long-term superiority of autologous tissue repair

John A. Girotto, Michael Chiaramonte, Nathan G. Menon, Navin Singh, Ron Silverman, Anthony P. Tufaro, Maurice Y. Nahabedian, Nelson H. Goldberg, Paul N. Manson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secondary repair of recurrent ventral hernia is difficult, and success depends on re-establishing the functional integrity of the abdominal wall. Current techniques used for closure of these defects have documented recurrence rates as high as 54 percent. The authors' 8-year experience utilizing variations of the components separation technique for autologous tissue repair of recalcitrant hernias emphasizes that recurrent or recalcitrant hernias benefit from the creation of a dynamic abdominal wall. A total of 389 patients were retrospectively identified as having abdominal wall defects, and 284 of these patients met the selection criteria. Study patients were grouped according to the type of surgical repair used. The recurrence rate was 20.7 percent over all study groups and was directly related to the extent of repair required. Group 1 patients (wide tissue undermining) had a recurrence rate of only 15 percent, while in group 2 (complete components separation), the recurrence rate was 22 percent. Group 3 patients (interpositional fascia lata graft) had a 29 percent recurrence rate. Time to recurrence was also significantly different across treatment groups, with study group 3 experiencing earlier hernia recurrence. The most frequent postoperative complication was wound infection, which was directly related to the repair performed. The relative odds of recurrence versus the risk factors of age, sex, perioperative steroid use, wound infection, defect size, and the presence of enterocutaneous fistula were studied with a logistic regression analysis. These factors did not possess statistical significance for predicting hernia recurrence. The preoperative presence of mesh was independently significant for hernia recurrence, increasing the relative odds 2.2 times (p = 0.01). Similarly, when other risk factors were controlled for, increasing the complexity of the treatment group, from study group 1 (wide tissue undermining) to study group 3 (interpositional fascia lata graft), also increased the odds of hernia recurrence 1.5-fold per group (p = 0.04). Average inpatient cost was $24,488. The length of inpatient stay ranged from 2 to 172 days (average, 12.8 days). The length of inpatient stay and costs were directly related to the extent of repair required. Using the analysis of variance test for multiple factors, the presence of an enterocutaneous fistula (p = 0.0014) or a postoperative wound infection (p = 0.008) independently increased the length of inpatient stay and hospital costs. A total of 108 successfully repaired patients were contacted by telephone and agreed to participate in a self-reported satisfaction survey. The patients noticed improvements in the appearance of their abdomen, in their postoperative emotional state, and in their ability to lift objects, arise from a chair or a bed, and exercise. These results suggest that recalcitrant hernia defects should be solved, when possible, by reconstructing a dynamic abdominal wall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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