Traumatic abdominal wall hernias: a single-center case series of surgical management


Trauma Surgery and Critical Care, Advocate Christ Medical Center,

Trauma and Critical Care, Advocate Christ Medical Center


Background: Traumatic abdominal wall hernias (TAWHs) are a rare clinical entity that can be difficult to diagnose and manage. There is no consensus on management of TAWH due to its low incidence and complex concomitant injury patterns. We hereby present the largest single-center case series in the USA to characterize associated injury patterns, identify optimal strategies for hernia management, and determine outcomes.

Methods: Patients who presented with a TAWH from blunt trauma requiring operative management were retrospectively identified over a 14-year period. Demographic data, Injury Severity Score (ISS), associated injuries, type of repair, durability of repair, and complications were collected, and descriptive statistics were calculated.

Results: Fifteen patients were identified. The average age was 31±11 years, ISS 15±9, and body mass index 33.4±7.1 kg/m2. Mechanisms included falls (13%), motor vehicle collisions (60%), motorcycle accidents (20%), and pedestrian versus motor vehicle collisions (7%). The most commonly associated injuries included colonic injuries (53%), long bone fractures (47%), pelvic fractures (40%), and small bowel injuries (33%). Nineteen hernia repairs were performed: 6 underwent primary suture repair (32%) and 13 used mesh (68%). There were four recurrences. We could not find any significant relationship between contamination and mesh use or recurrence. There was one mortality related to sepsis.

Discussion: TAWHs have an associated injury pattern involving fractures and abdominopelvic visceral injuries where a tailored approach is advisable. Without hollow viscous injuries and gross contamination, these hernias can be repaired safely with mesh in the acute setting. However, in patients with gross contamination or hemodynamic instability, the risk of recurrence with primary repair must be weighed against the risk of infection and prolonged surgery with mesh repair. In those cases, a delayed reconstruction in the elective setting may be optimal.

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