Open retromuscular versus laparoscopic ventral hernia repair for medium-sized defects: where is the value?

Hernia. 2020 Aug;24(4):759-770. doi: 10.1007/s10029-019-02114-4. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Purpose: There is increasing emphasis on value in health care, defined as quality over cost required to deliver care. We analyzed outcomes and costs of repairing medium-sized ventral hernias to identify whether an open retromuscular or laparoscopic intraperitoneal onlay approach would provide superior value to the patient and healthcare system.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative was performed for patients undergoing clean, elective repair of ventral hernias between 4 and 8 cm in width at our institution between 4/2013 and 12/2016 for whom at least 1-year follow-up was available. Recurrence rates, wound complications, length of stay, patient-reported outcomes, and perioperative costs were compared.

Results: One hundred and eighty-six patients met criteria (105 open, 81 laparoscopic) with 93.5% having ≥ 2-year follow-up. Patients undergoing laparoscopic repair had higher BMI, lower ASA classification, slightly lower prevalence of recurrent hernias and less prior mesh utilization, and slightly smaller hernias. Length of stay was shorter in the laparoscopic group (median 1 vs. 3 days, p < 0.001), without increased readmissions. Recurrence rates, wound complications, and patient-reported outcomes were similar. Laparoscopic repair had higher up-front surgical costs, yet equivalent total perioperative costs.

Conclusion: Both laparoscopic and open approaches for elective repair of medium-sized ventral hernias offer similar clinical outcomes, patient-reported outcomes, and total perioperative costs. Laparoscopic repair appears to offer superior value based on a significantly reduced postoperative length of stay.

Keywords: Cost; Economics; Laparoscopic ventral hernia repair; Open ventral hernia repair; Value; Ventral hernia repair.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / economics
  • Female
  • Hernia, Ventral / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy / economics
  • Herniorrhaphy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / economics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Mesh