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Am Surg. 2011 Aug;77(8):971-6.

Outcomes of emergent incisional hernia repair.

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Center for Surgical, Medical Acute Care Research and Transitions, Veteran's Affairs Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.


This study examines the effect of emergent repair on incisional hernia repair outcomes at 16 Veteran's Affairs Medical Centers between 1998 and 2002. Of the 1452 cases reviewed, 63 (4.3%) were repaired emergently. Patients undergoing emergent repair were older (P = 0.02), more likely to be black (P = 0.02), and have congestive heart failure (P = 0.001) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (P = 0.001). Of emergent repairs, 76.2 per cent involved intestinal incarceration versus 7.2 per cent of elective repairs (P < 0.0001), and 17.5 per cent had concomitant bowel resection compared with 3.9 per cent of elective cases (P < 0.0001). Patients undergoing emergent repair were also more likely to receive primary suture repair (49.2 vs 31.1%, P = 0.003), develop a postoperative complication (26.0 vs 11.3%, P = 0.002), and have increased postoperative length of stay (7 vs 4 days, P < 0.0001). There were nine (14.3%) deaths at 30 days for the emergent group compared with 10 (0.7%) in the elective group (P < 0.001). However, there was no significant difference between emergent and elective repairs in long-term complications. Emergent hernia repair is associated with increased mortality rates, early complications, and longer length of stay; however, long-term outcomes are equivalent to elective cases. These data suggest that technical outcomes for emergent repairs approach those of elective operations.

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