Safety and Outcome of Use of Nonabsorbable Mesh for Repair of Fascial Defects in the Presence of Open Bowel

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Historically, there has been reluctance to use nonabsorbable synthetic mesh for repair of abdominal-wall defects in an operative field in which the presence of open bowel is accompanied by the potential for contamination. Some believe the risk of wound infection and mesh removal in this setting to be unacceptably high. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of nonabsorbable mesh used for hernia repair in the presence of a stoma or at the time of colon resection.


All patients undergoing elective surgical implantation of mesh with concomitant open bowel from 1987 to 2001 were retrospectively reviewed. Computer database identified all patients undergoing parastomal hernia repair, ventral hernia repair with a stoma present, hernia repair with concomitant bowel resection, and colostomy closure with repair of hernia. No patients so identified were excluded. Follow-up was attained on all patients by chart review and telephone survey. The data was statistically analyzed by chi-squared test using a P value of <0.05 for statistical significance.


Twenty-nine patients were identified as having undergone 30 elective hernia repairs using nonabsorbable mesh. The repairs were performed in the presence of a stoma or in conjunction with bowel resection. All patients received bowel preparation. Included were 11 patients undergoing parastomal hernia repair (37 percent), 14 patients undergoing ventral hernia repair in the setting of open bowel (47 percent), and 5 patients in whom mesh repair of ventral and parastomal hernias were performed simultaneously (16 percent). Hernias recurred in 13 patients (43 percent). Overall recurrence for mesh repair at a parastomal site was 63 percent; overall recurrence at an incisional hernia site was 21 percent. The risk of wound complications after mesh placement in the setting of open bowel was assessed. Wound seromas developed after surgery in four patients (13 percent). Seromas were all treated successfully by aspiration. Wound infections occurred after surgery in two patients (7 percent). Wound infection occurred exclusively in sites of parastomal repair representing 2 of 16 (13 percent) of parastomal hernia sites. Infection with fistula necessitated mesh removal in one of these two cases. No chronic sinuses were observed. Incidences of recurrence and wound infection were statistically independent of type of hernia, variety of mesh, or operative approach.


After bowel preparation, nonabsorbable mesh can be used for elective repair of incisional hernia in the presence of open bowel with an expectation of minor morbidity, minimal risk of infection, and an acceptable rate of recurrence. Nonabsorbable mesh can be used for elective repair of parastomal hernia in a similar setting with a low risk of infection independent of surgical approach. Although safe, local mesh repair of parastomal hernia was, in this study, accompanied by a high rate of recurrence.

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