Conference Coverage

No easy answers for parastomal hernia repair



– At present, laparoscopic Sugarbaker repair is probably the best surgical option for parastomal hernias when stomas can’t be reversed, according to Mark Gudgeon, MS, FRCS, a consultant general surgeon at the Frimley Park Hospital in England.

Parastomal hernias are common in colorectal surgery; more than a quarter of ileostomy stomas and well over half of colostomy stomas herniate within 10 years of placement, leading to pain, leakage, appliance problems, and embarrassment for patients. There’s also the risk of bowel obstruction and strangulation. “It’s something that’s a challenge to all of us. It’s a very difficult problem,” Dr. Gudgeon said at the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons annual meeting.

Colostomy illustration Sebastian Kaulitzki/Thinkstock
It’s unclear what surgical approach is best because reports are largely drawn from small observational studies with short follow-up, and there are no randomized trials pitting one option against another. Dr. Gudgeon favors the increasingly popular Sugarbaker mesh technique because of the relatively low risk of recurrence. “It’s probably the best we’ve got right now,” he said.

It can be difficult to decide whether or not to even offer patients a surgical fix because they often fail, and sometimes lead to fistulas and well-known mesh complications. Obese patients are “a no-go because they do not do well, and neither do smokers. Both are things patients have an opportunity to correct before we go ahead with surgery,” Dr. Gudgeon said.

On top of that, about 6% of repair patients die from complications. Patients “don’t believe that at first, but when you rub it in, a lot of them will change their minds” about surgery. “These patients don’t do well,” so avoid surgery when possible, he said. “Pain can be dealt with; leakage can be dealt with; cosmesis can be accepted,” especially with the help of stoma specialists who are experts in the art of appliance fit and support garments, Dr. Gudgeon said.

If the decision to operate is made, forget about suture repair, Dr. Gudgeon recommended. It should be “abandoned. I know it still goes on, but the evidence speaks for itself: [hernias] just come back again.”

Dr. Gudgeon suggested that it may be best to reverse the stoma, if possible, and repair the defect. Relocating the stoma “is always an attractive alternative,” and laparoscopic mesh keyhole repairs are straightforward. But the risk of recurrence is high, he said.

The Food and Drug Administration recently found that there’s not much difference between synthetic and biologic mesh, so Dr. Gudgeon said he usually opts for synthetics because they are less expensive.

He reported speakers’ fees from Intuitive, Medtronic, and Cook Medical.

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