Background. Ventral abdominal wall hernias are common lesions and may be associated with life-threatening complications. The application of laparoscopic principles to the treatment of ventral hernias has reduced recurrence rates from a range of 25% to 52% to a range of 3.4% to 9%. In this study, we review our experience and assess the clinical outcome of patients who have undergone laparoscopic repair of ventral hernias. Methods. We reviewed the outcome of 79 patients with more than 1 year of follow-up who underwent laparoscopic ventral hernia repair between March 1996 and December 2001. Patient demographics, hernia characteristics, operative parameters, and clinical outcomes were evaluated. Results. Of the 79 patients, 37 were males. Mean age was 55.8 years (range 28-81). Sixty-eight patients had incisional hernias, including 11 with recurrent hernias. Eleven patients had primary ventral hernias. The mean defect size was 103 cm2 (range 4-510); incarceration was present in 22 patients (27.8%), and multiple (Swiss-cheese) defects in 20 (25.3%). Laparoscopic expanded polytetrafluoroethylene mesh repair by the modified Rives-Stoppa technique was completed in 78 (98.7%). One conversion occurred because of bowel injury. The mean operating time was 110 minutes (range 45-210) and mean hospital stay was 1.7 days (range 0-20), with 46 patients (58.2%) being discharged within 24 hours of surgery. Complications included seroma formation (3), chronic pain (3), prolonged ileus (1), hematoma formation (1), and missed bowel injury (1) for a complication rate of (11.4%). There were no deaths. After a follow-up of up to 6 years (a mean of 34 months), there were 4 recurrences (5%). Conclusion. The laparoscopic repair of ventral hernias is safe, effective, and durable with minimal morbidity. It is particularly successful in patients with recurrent lesions. The laparoscopic approach to ventral hernia repair should be considered the standard of care.
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