Does pregnancy increase the risk of abdominal hernia recurrence after prepregnancy surgical repair?

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

By increasing intraabdominal pressure, pregnancy may increase the risk of abdominal hernia recurrence. Current data are limited to studies with small sample size and thus the impact of pregnancy on recurrence is unclear.

OBJECTIVE(S):

The objective of this analysis was to evaluate the impact of pregnancy on clinically significant abdominal hernia recurrence in a large multicenter cohort.

STUDY DESIGN:

A multiinstitution deidentified electronic health record database, EPM: Explore (Explorys Inc, Cleveland, OH) was utilized to perform a retrospective cohort study of women aged 18–45 years with a history of an abdominal hernia repair from 1999 through 2013. Abdominal hernia was defined to include ventral and incisional hernias, and other types were excluded. The presence or absence of a pregnancy following primary hernia repair was elucidated from the database. Subjects were excluded if a hernia repair occurred during pregnancy. The rate of hernia recurrence, defined as reoperation, was calculated. The association between pregnancy and hernia recurrence was evaluated with logistic regression, both unadjusted and adjusted for diabetes, obesity (body mass index >30 kg/m2), tobacco abuse, and wound complication at the time of initial hernia repair.

RESULTS:

A total of 11,020 women with a history of hernia repair were identified, of whom 840 had a subsequent pregnancy. Overall, 915 women in the cohort had a hernia recurrence (8.3%). Women with a history of pregnancy following primary hernia repair were more likely to have a body mass index >30 kg/m2, a history of tobacco abuse, and a wound complication at the time of primary repair. In an unadjusted analysis, pregnancy was associated with an increase in the risk of hernia recurrence (13.1% vs 7.1%, odds ratio, 1.96, 95% confidence interval, 1.60–2.42). The association between pregnancy and hernia recurrence was attenuated but persisted after adjusting for confounding factors (adjusted odds ratio, 1.73, 95% confidence interval, 1.40–2.14).

CONCLUSION:

Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of abdominal hernia recurrence after adjusting for confounding factors. The magnitude of this association is likely underestimated, given that the risk of recurrence was defined as reoperation, which captures only the most clinically significant group of recurrences. This information will facilitate counseling for reproductive-aged women planning elective ventral or incisional hernia repair. The risk of recurrence and subsequent reoperation should be balanced against the risk of incarceration and emergent surgery during pregnancy. As such, the desire for future pregnancy and/or contraception should be considered when planning asymptomatic hernia repair for women of reproductive age.

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