Background: The use of absorbable meshes during contaminated or infected incisional hernia (IH) repair is associated with high morbidity and recurrence rates. Biological meshes might be more appropriate but have been described in highly heterogeneous series. This study aimed at comparing the efficacy of absorbable vs. biological meshes for the treatment of contaminated or infected IH in a homogeneous series with a standardized technique.
Methods: Data of all patients operated on between 2008 and 2015 for contaminated or infected IH, using an absorbable (A) Vicryl® or a biological (B) Strattice® mesh, were reviewed. Patient characteristics, infectious complication rates, and recurrence-free outcome (RFO) were compared between the two groups. A propensity score methodology was applied to a Cox regression model to deal with unbalanced characteristics between groups.
Results: Patient demographics in A (n = 57) and in B (n = 24) were similar except that B patients had larger parietal defects (p < 0.001) and higher Center for Disease Control (CDC) wound class (p = 0.034). Patients in A had statistically significantly more postoperative early (61.4% vs. 33.3%, p = 0.03) and late (31.2% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.046) infectious complications. Six-, 12-, and 36-month RFO rates were 77%, 47%, and 24%, and 96%, 87%, and 82% in A and B, respectively, p < 0.001. Raw multivariable Cox regression analysis found that B (HR = 0.1, 95% CI [0.03-0.34], p < 0.001) was independently associated with prolonged RFO (HR = 0.091, 95% CI [0.045-0.180], p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Biological meshes seem to be superior to absorbable meshes in patients with contaminated or infected incisional hernia. These results need to be confirmed by prospective randomized trials.
Keywords: Acellular dermis; Collagen/therapeutic use; Extracellular matrix; Hernia; Herniorrhaphy/methods; Surgical mesh; Surgical wound infection/epidemiology; Surgical wound infection/prevention and control; Ventral/surgery; Wound healing.