A western trauma association multicenter comparison of mesh versus non-mesh repair of blunt traumatic abdominal wall hernias

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BACKGROUND: Blunt traumatic abdominal wall hernias (TAWH) occur in <1 % of trauma patients. Optimal repair techniques, such as mesh reinforcement, have not been studied in detail. We hypothesize that mesh use will be associated with increased surgical site infections (SSI) and not improve hernia recurrence. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A secondary analysis of the Western Trauma Association blunt TAWH multicenter study was performed. Patients who underwent TAWH repair during initial hospitalization (1/2012-12/2018) were included. Mesh repair patients were compared to primary repair patients (non-mesh). A logistic regression was conducted to assess risk factors for SSI. RESULTS: 157 patients underwent TAWH repair during index hospitalization with 51 (32.5 %) having mesh repair: 24 (45.3 %) synthetic and 29 (54.7 %) biologic. Mesh patients were more commonly smokers (43.1 % vs. 22.9 %, p = 0.016) and had a larger defect size (10 vs. 6 cm, p = 0.003). Mesh patients had a higher rate of SSI (25.5 % vs. 9.5 %, p = 0.016) compared to non-mesh patients, but a similar rate of recurrence (13.7 % vs. 10.5%, p = 0.742), hospital length of stay (LOS), and mortality. Mesh use (OR 3.66) and higher ISS (OR 1.06) were significant risk factors for SSI in a multivariable model. CONCLUSION: Mesh was used more frequently in flank TAWH and those with a larger defect size. Mesh use was associated with a higher incidence and risk of SSI but did not reduce the risk of hernia recurrence. When repairing TAWH mesh should be employed judiciously, and prospective randomized studies are needed to identify clear indications for mesh use in TAWH.

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