Background. Laparoscopic techniques are being used increasingly in the repair of ventral hernias and offer the potential benefits of a shorter hospital stay, decreased wound complications, and possibly a lower recurrence rate. Despite good results from high-volume centers, significant complications may occur with this approach and the morbidity of incisional hernia repair may be underestimated. The purpose of this study was to review our experience with laparoscopic ventral hernia repair (LVHR) since its inception at our institution. Methods. Medical records of all patients who underwent LVHR at a single institution from May 2000 through December 2003 were reviewed. Preoperative and postoperative variables including complications were analyzed. Follow-up evaluation was by office visit and phone survey with assessment of patient satisfaction scores. Data are expressed as mean ± SD. Results. A total of 121 LVHR were performed in 116 patients (52 men, 64 women; mean age, 57 ± 13 y; mean body mass index, 35 ± 8). Hernias were recurrent in 35 cases (28.9%), with a mean of 1.4 prior repairs (range, 1-7). The mean defect size was 109 ± 126 cm2 and the average mesh size used was 256 ± 192 cm2. Operating time was 147 ± 45 minutes, and the hospital stay averaged 1.7 ± 1 days. Twelve cases (9.9%) were converted to open operation, most commonly because of extensive adhesions. Extensive laparoscopic adhesiolysis was necessary in 29 cases (26.6%). Overall, perioperative complications occurred in 33 cases (27.3%), 13 of which (39.3%) were persistent seromas. Major complications were seen in 9 cases (7.4%). There were 4 enterotomies (3.3%): 3 occurred as a result of adhesiolysis and 1 resulted from a trocar injury; 2 were detected intraoperatively and were converted to open operation and 2 presented postoperatively. One of these patients developed sepsis and died. Follow-up evaluation was available for 83.6% of cases at a mean interval of 22 ± 16 months after repair. The hernia recurrence rate was 9.3% (9 cases) and was detected at a median of 6 months postoperatively. The overall patient satisfaction score was high at 4.3 ± 1.1 (scale, 1-5). Conclusions. Laparoscopic repair is effective for the vast majority of patients with primary or recurrent ventral hernias and results in hernia recurrence rates of less than 10%, with high patient satisfaction scores. Although seroma is the most common complication, major morbidity occurred in 7.4% of the patients in our series. Enterotomy is the most common serious complication and may result in sepsis and death.
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