The frequency of subsequent abdominal operations (SAO) and complications attributable to earlier ventral incisional hernia repair (VIHR) are unknown. We examined the effect of repair type and technique on the difficulty and complications of subsequent surgery.
A cohort of VIHRs at 16 Veterans Affairs hospitals between 1998 and 2002 was examined for postrepair abdominal operation by chart review. The primary independent variable was type and technique of the index VIHR: suture or mesh repair stratified by mesh type and position in relation to abdominal wall musculature. Subsequent surgery characteristics including operative time, inadvertent enterotomy, mesh removal, and length of postoperative stay were determined by chart review. Regression modeling was used to adjust for potential confounding variables.
At a median of 80 months after VIHR in 1,444 patients, 366 (25.3%) experienced SAO. Nearly two-thirds of these involved rerepair of the VIHR with or without a concomitant procedure. Mesh removal was significantly more likely in expanded polytetrafluoroethylene repairs as compared with polypropylene repairs, regardless of technique (odds ratio = 3.6; p = 0.01). On multivariable regression modeling, polypropylene underlay (p = 0.03) and inlay (p = 0.001) and absorbable/biologic mesh (p = 0.05) significantly increased operative time for SAO. Repair type, mesh type, or position had no significant effect on risk of inadvertent enterotomy during the SAO (p≥0.27).
Subsequent abdominal operations after VIHR are common. Underlay or inlay polypropylene mesh increases SAO operative time, but there was no increased risk of intestinal injury. Earlier repair with expanded polytetrafluoroethylene did not increase operative time, but there was equivalent risk for intestinal injury and increased risk for mesh removal.