Hernia Recurrence Rates Still Too High After Hernia Repair Surgery, Researchers Warn

Study found a hernia recurrence rate of 16%, with those who underwent incisional and ventral hernia repair operations facing higher risks.

A new study finds suggests that one out of every six patients who undergoes hernia repair surgery can expect to need additional revision surgery within 10 years of their first operation, due to hernia recurrence.

Researchers from the University of Michigan report that 16% of patients who underwent ventral or incisional hernia repair have to undergo reoperation within a decade due to hernia recurrence; a common hernia mesh complication. The findings were published in a research letter on March 1, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The findings come after a string of problems with certain polypropylene mesh products introduced by different manufacturers over the past two decades have resulted in thousands of individuals pursuing a hernia recurrence lawsuit, alleging that design defects caused the mesh to fail within a few years, often resulting in revision surgery.

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Cases reviewed for problems with several types of hernia repair products.

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Prior research into hernia recurrence had placed the 10-year recurrence rate at 20% from 1987 to 1999, but there has been little research into the long-term rate of recurrence otherwise.

In this new study, researchers conducted a retrospective review of Medicare claims data involving patients who underwent elective, inpatient, ventral or incisional and umbilical hernia repair between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2018, looking at data on 175,735 patients who underwent the various surgeries.

According to their findings, the mean age of the patients was 68.9 years. Researchers discovered that 25,061 patients, or 14.3% underwent reoperation for hernia recurrence. Adjusting for cumulative incidents, the rate of recurrence was 16%.

“In a contemporary population of older adults in the US, approximately 1 in 6 patients underwent reoperation for recurrence within 10 years of surgery,” the researchers concluded. “Compared with historical 10-year reoperation rates of approximately 1 in 6 patients…these results suggest that outcomes have only marginally improved.”

They found that the lowest rate of recurrence occurred among patients who underwent umbilical hernia repair, but noted that this could because ventral and incisional hernia repair operations are more complex.

The study did not differentiate between types of hernia repair or mesh used.


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