Introduction: Infected incisional hernias are common in kidney transplant patients. Treating them in immunosuppressed patients can take months, increasing costs and implying loss of working productivity. Abdominal wall prostheses have not been used in infected immunosuppressed patients because of poor infection control. We evaluated the outcome of the surgical treatment of these patients with polypropylene mesh to shorten the hospitalization time and patient recovery. The records of 462 consecutive kidney transplant patients (March 2000 to February 2004) were reviewed. Of these 462 patients, 13 (2.8%) had infected or contaminated herniations at the transplant incision. They developed between 2 and 60 days (mean 14) after transplantation. The racial distribution was not significant, but herniations were more common in patients from cadaveric donors (4.5% versus 0%, P = 0.005). Predisposing factors were found in 6 patients (46.2%) and included complications from transplant surgery in 2, obesity in 1, leukopenia in 3, sepsis in 1, diabetes mellitus in 1, and wall weakness in 1 patient (3 had more than one risk factor).
Technical considerations: A prospective protocol of surgical correction with polypropylene mesh was established. After wound cleansing with normal saline, repair was done by primary fascial approximation and polypropylene mesh reinforcement. Broad-spectrum antibiotics and large-bore drains were used. Follow-up ranged from 1 to 40 months (mean 14.5). All patients did well except for one recurrence, 14 months after correction.
Conclusions: Surgical repair with polypropylene mesh is safe and effective in treating infected or contaminated herniations in kidney transplant patients, with an acceptable (9.1%) incidence of recurrence.