Abdominal core quality of life after ventral hernia repair: a comparison of open versus robotic-assisted retromuscular techniques

Surg Endosc. 2021 Jan;35(1):241-248. doi: 10.1007/s00464-020-07386-x. Epub 2020 Jan 28.


Background: Robotic-assisted retromuscular repairs reduce length of stay compared to open surgery. However, no study has evaluated the long-term impact on abdominal core quality of life.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study performed using prospectively collected data from the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative (AHSQC) including adults who underwent open or robotic-assisted retromuscular, incisional hernia repair between 2013 and 2019. Differences in Hernia-Related Quality of Life Survey (HerQLes) scores at baseline and 1 year postoperatively were compared using multivariable regression models. Secondary outcomes included perioperative complications, wound morbidity, and hernia recurrence.

Results: 236 patients underwent open (N = 194) and robotic (N = 42) repairs. Median age was 61 years. The open group had larger hernia widths (median [IQR], 13 [9-16] vs. 7 [5-9] cm) and longer LOS (5 [4-6] vs. 1.5 [1-3] days). Median HerQLes summary scores at 1 year were similar at 88 [67, 93] points for open vs 90 [58, 94] for robotic arm. Wound morbidity rates were similar. On multivariate analysis, there was no difference in HerQLes summary score improvement 1 year after repair between techniques (3.3, CI [- 7.7, 14.3]; p = 0.52), however, patients with a comparatively larger hernia width of 7 cm had a 5.9 (CI [1.1, 10.8], p = 0.02) increase in HerQLes scores, and patients with a higher ASA class (3-5) saw an 11-point score improvement (CI [2.2, 20.0], p = 0.02) regardless of approach. Smoking, BMI above 30, or hernia recurrence had no significant impact, while COPD hindered scores (- 17.0, CI [- 32.3, - 1.7], p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Improvement in abdominal core quality of life after repair is comparable between open and robotic retromuscular techniques. Larger hernia defects and higher ASA class patients benefitted the greatest. Robotic approaches offer shorter LOS with comparable recurrence and wound morbidity rates 1 year after surgery. The surgical approach should be personalized and guided by the surgeon's individual and institutional expertise.

Keywords: Abdominal core; Hernia; Incisional; Open; Quality of life; Robotic.