Background: In large incisional hernias and after laparostoma midline closure may be impossible. A novel abdominal wall expander system (AWEX) is proposed and evaluated.
Methods: In patients with large incisional hernias and laparostoma where primary midline closure was impossible, AWEX was used. Patients undergoing abdominal wall reconstruction using AWEX between May 2012 and December 2015 were included. Intraoperative the abdominal wall was stretched by attaching the midline fascia borders to a retraction system under tension for 30 minutes. Length and width of the hernia defect were measured in preoperative computed tomography. Width gain after AWEX procedure, operative time, morbidity, and presence of remaining midline gap was evaluated. Patients were followed for hernia recurrence.
Results: Ten patients with incisional hernias (N = 4) and grafted laparostoma (N = 6) underwent abdominal wall reconstruction using AWEX. Median (interquartile range) length and width of the hernia defect was 18.0 (15.0-20.5) and 12.0 (11.8-13.3) cm. Width gain after AWEX was 8.5 (8.0-10.5) cm. Operative time was 270 (135-379) minutes. The major morbidity was 20%. In 4 patients a gap of 4 (4-5) cm was bridged by intraperitoneal onlay mesh. After a median follow-up of 21 (7-36) months no hernia recurrence was observed.
Conclusions: Stretching of the abdominal wall that has been shown successful using progressive restressed retention sutures and progressive preoperative pneumoperitoneum is reduced from days and weeks to 30 minutes in AWEX. AWEX is a promising alternative to component separation in repair of large incisional hernias. After refinement of the system prospective evaluation is required.
Keywords: colorectal surgery; evidence-based medicine/surgery; hernias.