Midline ventral hernia repair with bilateral sliding myofascial rectus abdominis flaps, or the “separation of parts” technique, has low hernia recurrence rates. However, this technique, as originally described, creates massively undermined skin and subcutaneous tissue flaps. These undermined skin flaps can suffer marginal skin loss, fat necrosis, and delayed wound healing. The authors propose that preserving the periumbilical rectus abdominis perforators to the abdominal skin flaps will decrease the prevalence of postoperative superficial wound complications. A retrospective review of 66 consecutive, large, midline hernia repairs using a separation of parts technique was undertaken to identify any correlation between the preservation of periumbilical rectus abdominis perforators to the skin flaps and the prevalence of postoperative wound complications. In 25 cases, the standard separation of parts technique was performed with wide undermining of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. In 41 cases, the modified separation of parts technique was performed with maintenance of the periumbilical rectus abdominis perforators to the abdominal skin flaps.
Comparison of these two groups revealed no difference in age; sex; body mass index; initial hernia size on physical examination; prevalence of smoking, diabetes, or steroid use; or prevalence of a simultaneous intraabdominal procedure. A statistically significant difference was noted in postoperative wound complications between the two groups (p < 0.05). Of patients who underwent the standard separation of parts technique, five of 25 patients (20 percent) had wound complications as compared with one of 41 patients (2 percent) who underwent the modified separation of parts technique with perforator preservation. The postoperative hernia recurrence (7 percent and 8 percent, respectively) and hematoma (4 percent and 2 percent, respectively) rates were similar in both groups. A trend of increased wound complications was noted when separation of parts was combined with an intraabdominal procedure (18 percent versus 3 percent, p = 0.08). Interestingly, within this group, the modified separation of parts technique with preservation of the periumbilical rectus abdominis perforators demonstrated a trend of fewer wound complications as compared with the standard separation of parts technique (7 percent versus 31 percent, p = 0.15). The authors conclude that preservation of the periumbilical rectus abdominis perforators significantly reduces the prevalence of major postoperative superficial wound complications in separation of parts hernia repairs. Simultaneous intraabdominal procedures with separation of parts hernia repairs seem to increase the prevalence of wound complications. This increased prevalence of wound complications seems to be minimized when the modified separation of parts technique is performed. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 109: 2275, 2002.)