In open retromuscular ventral hernia repair, fixation-free mesh placement is increasingly prevalent and may minimize pain; the main concern with this technique is short-term technical failure and hernia recurrence. This study compared outcomes following mechanical mesh fixation (i.e., sutures, staples, tacks) versus fixation-free mesh placement.
Adults who underwent open, elective, retromuscular ventral hernia repair of 15 cm width or less with permanent synthetic mesh placement in a clean wound were identified. Propensity score matching was used to compare patients who received mechanical mesh fixation to those who received fixation-free mesh placement. Thirty-day hernia recurrence was the primary outcome, with secondary outcomes of 30-day hospital length of stay and 30-day rates of readmission, reoperation, wound events, pain, and abdominal wall function. One- and 2-year composite recurrence and 3-year cumulative composite recurrence were also evaluated.
A 3:1 propensity score match was performed on 299 fixation-free patients identifying 897 mechanical fixation patients, with a mean body mass index of 31 kg/m2 and mean age of 57.5 years. There was no difference in 30-day recurrence between mechanical and fixation-free approaches (0.2 percent versus 0 percent; p = 1). Median length of stay was longer for mechanical fixation (4 versus 3 days; p = 0.002). In the mechanical fixation group, pain scores were higher (worse pain, 46 versus 44; p = 0.001), and abdominal wall function scores were lower (worse function, 47 versus 60; p = 0.003), with no differences in rates of hospital readmission, reoperation, or wound events. There were no differences in long-term outcomes of 1- and 2-year composite recurrence, or 3-year cumulative composite recurrence.
For short-term technical durability, fixation-free mesh placement in open retromuscular ventral hernia repair is an acceptable alternative to mechanical fixation for hernia defects of 15 cm or less.
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