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Mesh fistula after ventral hernia repair: What is the optimal management?

Published:December 26, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.surg.2019.09.020

      Abstract

      Background

      A mesh-related intestinal fistula is an uncommon and challenging complication of ventral hernia repair. Optimal management is unclear owing to lack of prospective or long-term data.

      Methods

      We reviewed our prospective data for mesh-related intestinal fistulas from 2004 to 2017and compared suture repair versus ventral hernia repair with mesh at the time of mesh-related intestinal fistula takedown.

      Results

      Eighty-two mesh-related intestinal fistulas were treated; none of the fistulas had closed spontaneously, and all fistula persisted at the time of our treatment. Mean age was 61 ± 12 years with 33-month follow-up. Comorbidities were similar between groups. Defects were 2.5-times larger in ventral hernia repair with mesh (324 ± 392 cm2 vs 1301 ± 133 cm2; P = .044). Components separation (64% vs 21%; P = .0003) and panniculectomy (35% vs 7%; P = .0074) were more common in ventral hernia repair with mesh. Mortality occurred in 4 patients. Complications were similar. In patients undergoing ventral hernia repair with non-bridged, acellular, porcine dermal matrix, hernia recurrence was less than in patients without mesh (26% vs 66%; P = .0030). Only partial excision of the mesh involved with the fistula resulted in a substantial increase in developing another fistula (29% vs 6%; P < .05).

      Conclusion

      Patients undergoing preperitoneal ventral hernia repair with mesh for mesh-related intestinal fistula had a lesser rate of hernia recurrence and similar complications compared to suture repair despite larger hernias. Complete mesh excision decreases the risk of fistula recurrence. We maintain that ventral hernia repair with mesh during mesh-related intestinal fistula takedown represents the best opportunity for a durable herniorrhaphy.
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