Incisional Hernia Repair After Liver Transplantation: A Second Editorial Look

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Incisional hernia is a potential complication of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), with various options for repair.

Study Design:

We conducted a retrospective review of a series of adult patients with incisional hernias after OLT to identify risk factors and to compare methods of repair.


Incisional hernia repair was performed in 44 of 959 patients (4.6%) who underwent OLT from 1999 to 2005. Mean age at time of OLT was 53 years, and 73% were men. One or more complications of OLT occurred in 33 patients (75%) and included reoperation for bile leak or hemoperitoneum (34%), pulmonary problems (27%), early acute rejection (7%), and severe ascites and retransplantation (5% each). Incisional hernia was diagnosed at 419 days (range 62 to 1,524 days) and repaired at 471 days (range 109 to 1,581 days) after OLT. Presentation included pain or discomfort (78%) and incarceration or strangulation (5%); 17% were asymptomatic. Herniorrhaphy techniques included fascial repair with onlay polypropylene mesh reinforcement (n = 25, 57%); fascial repair only (n = 15, 34%); or inlay mesh sewn to fascial edges (n = 4, 9%). Complications of repair included recurrence in seven patients (16%) and wound infection and seroma in one patient each. Recurrence occurred in five patients with primary repair and two with mesh techniques (33% versus 6%, p = 0.04).


Incisional hernia is a late complication of OLT for which male gender and early post-OLT complications are risk factors. Repair is safe when undertaken after acute problems have resolved and is best accomplished using mesh reinforcement of autologous tissue. (J Am Coll Surg 2006;203:421-425.)

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