Investigation of optimal hernia repair techniques in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Introduction: Multiple laparotomies, immunosuppressive therapy, wound infection, and malnutrition are risk factors for incisional hernia development, which places inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients at high risk. With advances in minimally invasive techniques, this study assesses incisional hernia repair techniques and complications in the IBD population.

Methods: A single-center, retrospective review of adults with IBD who underwent incisional hernia repair from 2008 to 2022. Complications relative to operative approach and mesh placement location were assessed using descriptive and univariate statistics.

Results: Eighty-eight IBD patients underwent incisional hernia repair. Fifty-two (59.1%) were on immunomodulators and 30 (34.1%) were repaired primarily. Thirty-five (39.7%) hernias recurred, of whom 19 (33%) had mesh placed. Three (30%) occurred in onlay repairs and 16 (33%) occurred in underlay repairs. Subdivision of underlay repairs into intraperitoneal, preperitoneal and retrorectus mesh placement revealed recurrence rates of 35.1%, 50%, and 14.3%, respectively. Patients with open repair were more likely to have intraoperative bowel injury (28.6% vs 9.7%, p = 0.041) and develop postoperative seromas/abscesses (12.5% vs 0%, p = 0.001) and wound complications (17.9% vs 0%, p = 0.012) compared to laparoscopic. Seromas/abscesses developed more frequently in onlay repairs compared to underlay (40% vs 2.13%, p = 0.001). Twelve (13.6%) patients presented with postoperative small bowel obstruction (SBO), 7 (58.3%) of whom had mesh placed, and 6 (85.7%) were underlay. All SBO after underlay repair had intraperitoneally placed mesh. When comparing surgeons, hernias were more likely to recur performed by colorectal surgeons compared to hernia surgeons (63.3% vs 21.3%, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: In IBD patients, minimally invasive approaches lead to fewer perioperative complications compared to open. Underlay mesh placement demonstrated decreased incidence of seroma/abscess formation compared to onlay. When sub-grouped, underlay placements were similar in terms of complications. Retrorectus placement, however, had fewer recurrences and no readmissions for SBO. This suggests a minimally invasive approach or placement of retrorectus mesh may provide the optimal repair in this patient population.

Keywords: Hernia; Inflammatory bowel disease; Laparoscopic; Onlay; Rectrorectus; Robotic.