Background: Lateral abdominal wall defects are a significant contributor to patient morbidity and mortality in the United States. Reconstruction involving flank hernias and bulges is relatively scarce in the literature despite its serious consequences. The authors aim to identify an objective approach for the evaluation and successful repair of defects of the lateral abdominal wall.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was carried out on patients presenting for open repair of a lateral wall defect performed by a single surgeon. Over a 5-year period, there were 29 consecutive patients with a mean follow-up period of 21.2 months. Patient demographics including body mass index, number of hernia defects, number of previous repairs/abdominal operations, defect size, operative time, blood loss, and complications (e.g., recurrence/bulge, seroma, hematoma, wound infection, persistent pain, skin breakdown, and fascial dehiscence) were collected.
Results: Patients who underwent flank hernia repairs using an inlay/underlay nonbridged technique with the use of acellular dermal matrix had low recurrence and overall complication rates. Only one patient (3.4 percent) had a recurrence at follow-up, and another patient (3.4 percent) had developed a bulge.
Conclusions: The authors' data indicate successful results when their technique is applied. Proper patient selection is essential, along with a thorough understanding of anatomy and techniques for successful reconstruction. The authors recommend using an inlay (preferred) or underlay repair with acellular dermal matrix to reinforce the surrounding musculofascial closure. This technique, in conjunction with the authors' holistic abdominal wall reconstruction protocol, has optimized outcomes and identified a successful multidisciplinary strategy for the reconstruction of lateral wall defects.
Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, IV.