Background: Traditional approach to incisional hernias (IHs) in cirrhotic patients is plagued by a significant recurrence rate and frequent wound infections. The laparoscopic repair of IHs was designed to offer a minimally invasive and tension-free technique that yields less morbidity and fewer recurrences than the standard open repair. In cirrhotic patients there are additional reasons for the benefits of laparoscopy. First, preservation of the abdominal wall avoids interruption of large collateral veins. Second, nonexposure of viscera restricts electrolytic and protein losses, and improves absorption of ascites. Finally, the laparoscopic approach is associated with a lower perioperative blood loss (smaller abdominal incision).
Methods: A retrospective review was performed for 14 consecutive patients with ventral hernias and affected by chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis related to hepatitis C-B virus, who underwent laparoscopic repair at our institution between September 2002 and October 2004. All patients were in class A of Child-Pugh classification.
Results: There was no conversion to open operation. The mean size of the defects was 87 cm (range 1 to 480); incarceration was present in 2 patients and multiple (Swiss-cheese) defects in 1. In all cases, the mesh (average, 287 cm) was secured with transabdominal sutures and metal tacks or staples leaving the sac in situ. Operative time and estimated blood loss averaged 88 min (range 18 to 270) and 30 mL (range 10 to 150). Length of hospital stay averaged 2.6 days (range 1 to 6). There were 11 minor complications: seroma lasting >4 weeks (5), postoperative ileus (2), suture site pain >2 weeks (2), urinary retention (1), and skin breakdown (1). We experienced no recurrences with an average follow-up of 8 months (range 3 to 24).
Conclusions: Laparoscopic IH repair is technically feasible and safe even in cirrhotic patients with fascial defects. This operation decreases postoperative pain, shortens the recovery period, and seems to reduce postoperative morbidity and recurrence. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report in which a series of cirrhotic patients affected by incisional and umbilical hernias is treated with a laparoscopic approach.