Background: Various randomized studies have evaluated techniques of abdominal fascia closure but controversy remains, leaving surgeons uncertain about the optimal method of preventing incisional hernia.
Method: Medline and Embase databases were searched. All trials with a follow-up of at least 1 year that randomized patients with midline laparotomies to closure of the fascia by different suture techniques and/or suture materials were subjected to meta-analysis. Primary outcome was incisional hernia; secondary outcomes were wound dehiscence, wound infection, wound pain and suture sinus formation.
Results: Fifteen studies were identified with a total of 6566 patients. Closure by continuous rapidly absorbable suture was followed by significantly more incisional hernias than closure by continuous slowly absorbable suture (P < 0.009) or non-absorbable suture (P = 0.001). No difference in incisional hernia incidence was found between slowly absorbable and non-absorbable sutures (P = 0.75), but more wound pain (P < 0.005) and more suture sinuses (P = 0.02) occurred after the use of non-absorbable suture. Similar outcomes were observed with continuous and interrupted sutures, but continuous sutures took less time to insert.
Conclusion: To reduce the incidence of incisional hernia without increasing wound pain or suture sinus frequency, slowly absorbable continuous sutures appear to be the optimal method of fascial closure.