What is the outcome of the open IPOM versus sublay technique in the treatment of larger incisional hernias?: A propensity score-matched comparison of 9091 patients from the Herniamed Registry

Hernia. 2021 Feb;25(1):23-31. doi: 10.1007/s10029-020-02143-4. Epub 2020 Feb 25.


Introduction: In an Expert Consensus guided by systematic review, the panel agreed that for open elective incisional hernia repair, sublay mesh location is preferred, but open intraperitoneal onlay mesh (IPOM) may be useful in certain settings. This analysis of data from the Herniamed Registry aimed to compare the outcomes of open IPOM and sublay technique.

Methods: Propensity score matching of 9091 patients with elective incisional hernia repair and with defect width ≥ 4 cm was performed. The following matching variables were selected: age, gender, risk factors, ASA score, preoperative pain, defect size, and defect localization.

Results: For the 1977 patients with open IPOM repair and 7114 patients with sublay repair, n = 1938 (98%) pairs were formed. No differences were seen between the two groups with regard to the intraoperative, postoperative and general complications, complication-related reoperations and recurrences. But significant disadvantages were identified for the open IPOM repair in respect of pain on exertion (17.1% vs. 13.7%; p = 0.007), pain at rest (10.4% vs. 8.3%; p = 0.040) and chronic pain requiring treatment (8.8% vs. 5.8%; p < 0.001), in addition to rates of 3.8%, 1.1% and 1.1%, respectively, occurring in both matched patients. No relationship with tacker mesh fixation was identified. There are only very few reports in the literature with comparable findings.

Conclusion: Compared with sublay repair, open IPOM repair appears to pose a higher risk of chronic pain. This finding concords with the Expert Consensus recommending that incisional hernia should preferably be repaired using the sublay technique.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Incisional hernia; Open IPOM; Postoperative complications; Recurrence; Sublay.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Female
  • Herniorrhaphy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incisional Hernia* / surgery
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Propensity Score
  • Registries
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Treatment Outcome