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Hernia. 2017 Aug;21(4):619-622. doi: 10.1007/s10029-017-1593-z. Epub 2017 Mar 25.

Rectus abdominis atrophy after ventral abdominal incisions: midline versus chevron.

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Department of Surgery, NorthShore University HealthSystem, 2650 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL, 60201, USA.
Department of Surgery, NorthShore University HealthSystem, 2650 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL, 60201, USA.



Although many outcomes have been compared between a midline and chevron incision, this is the first study to examine rectus abdominis atrophy after these two types of incisions.


Patients undergoing open pancreaticobiliary surgery between 2007 and 2011 at our single institution were included in this study. Rectus abdominis muscle thickness was measured on both preoperative and follow-up computed tomography (CT) scans to calculate percent atrophy of the muscle after surgery.


At average follow-up of 24.5 and 19.0 months, respectively, rectus abdominis atrophy was 18.9% greater in the chevron (n = 30) than in the midline (n = 180) group (21.8 vs. 2.9%, p < 0.0001). Half the patients with a chevron incision had >20% atrophy at follow-up compared with 10% with a midline incision [odds ratio (OR) 9.0, p < 0.0001]. No significant difference was observed in incisional hernia rates or wound infections between groups.


In this study, chevron incisions resulted in seven times more atrophy of the rectus abdominis compared with midline incisions. The long-term effects of transecting the rectus abdominis and disrupting its innervation creates challenging abdominal wall pathology. Atrophy of the abdominal wall can not be readily fixed with an operation, and this significant side effect of a transverse incision should be factored into the surgeon's decision-making process when choosing a transverse over a midline incision.


Chevron incision; Laparotomy incisions; Midline versus transverse incision; Rectus atrophy

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