From the Journals

Pregnancy after ventral hernia repair increased the risk for recurrence



Management of ventral hernia repair in women of childbearing age should include counseling about and consideration of potential impact of pregnancy on recurrence, concluded the authors of a systematic review of the literature on hernia and pregnancy.

A pregnant woman in a hospital bed Bunwit/Getty Images

Erling Omoa, MD, of Bispebjerg Hospital and the University of Copenhagen, and his colleagues surveyed 5,189 articles and chose four cohort studies, four case-control studies, and one case-series study that met their criteria of quality, comparability, and outcomes data. Only randomized, controlled trials, analytical observational studies, and large case series were included. The focus was primary ventral (umbilical and epigastric) and incisional hernia surgery before, during, and after pregnancy.

“The prevalence of clinically relevant primary ventral hernias is very low during pregnancy,” the investigators wrote, but there is a lack on consensus concerning the management of hernia repair in women of childbearing age. “The objective of this systematic review was to examine the risk of recurrence following prepregnancy ventral hernia repair, and secondly, to evaluate the prevalence of ventral hernia during pregnancy and the risk of surgical repair before and after childbirth,” they wrote.

The reviewers evaluated pregnancy following ventral hernia repair as a potential risk factor for hernia recurrence. One study found that subsequent pregnancy was associated with a 1.6-fold increased risk of recurrence. Another found that pregnancy was independently associated with a 73% raised risk of recurrence. The risk of recurrence was no different between mesh and suture repair.

The review found the prevalence of primary ventral and inguinal repair during pregnancy to be low. A single-center cohort study of 20,714 pregnant women of which 17 (0.08%) had umbilical hernias and none of these required repair before delivery. A case series of 126 women who underwent this surgery during pregnancy indicated that this procedure was associated with minimal 30-day morbidity and no deaths. No data was available on fetal morbidity or recurrence in this case series.

Case-control studies reporting on umbilical repair concomitant with elective C-section found that, although adding hernia repair to the procedure increased operative time in some studies, there was no additional complication risk.

Overall, the investigators found several areas in which evidence remains weak, such as the long-term risks for recurrence following pregnancy and long-term outcomes of mesh versus suture repairs. They recommended that patients be counseled on the risk of recurrence linked to subsequent pregnancies and that, if possible, ventral hernia repair should be postponed until after a last planned pregnancy. Watchful waiting until after a delivery was deemed safe in many cases.

The investigators reported no conflicts.

SOURCE: Oma E et al. Am J Surg. 2019 Jan;217:163-8.

Recommended Reading

Smoking has small effect on postop hernia wound morbidity
MDedge Surgery
Consider timing and technique before hernia repair in patients with cirrhosis
MDedge Surgery
Elective hernia repair preferable in patients with chronic liver disease
MDedge Surgery
Clinical trial: Randomized study of lap vs. robotic hernia surgery underway
MDedge Surgery
Outcomes similar for skin graft, synthetic mesh in incisional hernia repair
MDedge Surgery