Background: Incisional hernia is a common complication of abdominal surgery and an important source of morbidity. It may be repaired using open suture, open mesh or laparoscopic mesh techniques. This review examines the results of these methods of repair.
Methods: A Medline literature search was performed to identify articles relating to 'incisional hernia', 'ventral hernia' and 'wound failure'. Relevant papers from the reference lists of these articles were also sought.
Results: The recurrence rate after open suture repair may be as high as 31-49 per cent; for open mesh repair it is between 0 and 10 per cent. Comparative studies show that recurrence is significantly more frequent after open suture repair than after open mesh repair; complication rates are similar for both procedures. Recurrence rates after laparoscopic mesh repair vary from 0 to 9 per cent. Comparative studies show that laparoscopic mesh repair is at least as safe and effective as open mesh repair.
Conclusion: Open suture repair for incisional hernia carries an unacceptably high recurrence rate. The results of open mesh and laparoscopic mesh techniques are encouraging. There is scope for a large multicentre randomized clinical trial to compare laparoscopic and open mesh repair.