Is Nonoperative Management Warranted in Ventral Hernia Patients With Comorbidities?: A Case-matched, Prospective, Patient-centered Study

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The aim of this study was to determine patient-centered outcomes of nonoperative treatment of a ventral hernia.

Summary of Background Data:

Nonoperative management of ventral hernias (VHs) is often recommended for patients at increased risk of complications; however, the impact of this management strategy on outcome and quality of life (QoL) is unknown. We hypothesize that QoL and function are better among patients with VHs managed operatively.


Patients with a VH from a single-center hernia clinic were prospectively enrolled between June 2014 and June 2015. Nonoperative management was recommended if smoking, obesity, or poorly controlled diabetes was present. Primary outcomes were patient-centered outcomes, including QoL and function, which were measured using a validated, hernia-specific survey (modified Activities Assessment Scale) before surgeon’ consultation and at 6 months. Other outcomes included surgical site infection (SSI) and recurrence. Risk-adjusted outcomes between nonoperative and operative groups were compared using: paired t test on a propensity score-matched subset and multivariable analysis on the overall cohort.


A total of 152 patients (nonoperative = 97, operative = 55) were enrolled. In the propensity-matched cohort (n = 90), both groups had similar baseline QoL and function scores, but only repaired patients had improved scores on 6-month follow-up. In the overall cohort, nonoperative management was strongly associated with lower function scores (log odds ratio = −26.5; 95% confidence interval = −35.0 to −18.0).


This is the first prospective study comparing management strategies in VH patients with comorbidities. Elective repair improves hernia-related QoL and function in low- to moderate-risk patients and should be considered in appropriately selected patients.

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