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Incisional hernia following liver transplantation: incidence and predisposing factors


Corresponding author: Judith Kahn, MD, Department of Transplantation Surgery, Medical University Graz, University Clinic of Surgery, Auenbruggerplatz 29/Postfach 88, 8036 Graz, Austria.
Tel.: +43 316 385 2707; fax: +43 316 385 4446


Abstract:  Background:  Patients after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) have a high risk of developing incisional hernia (IH). In the literature incidences between 5% and 17% are reported.

Patients and methods:  In 90 patients, who underwent OLT between October 1998 and December 2005, a retrospective analysis on the occurrence of IH was performed. Surgical access for OLT was a transversal upper laparotomy. Age, gender, primary disease, ICU stay, immunosuppressive regimen and two different closure techniques (running suture or single sutures in layers) were evaluated.

Results:  In 73 patients (76.7%, group 2) healing of the incision was without problems, in 17 patients (23.3%, group 1), IH occurred. Total survival was similar between the groups (86.3% vs. 94.1%, n.s.). No significant differences between the groups concerning age, gender, body mass index, platelet count and duration of ICU stay were found. Also, the technique of abdominal closure had no impact on the development of IH. No IH was found in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 15), whereas end-stage liver cirrhosis (n = 75) was associated with development of IH (p = 0.064). Multivariate analysis revealed end-stage liver cirrhosis, Sirolimus, and MMF to be independent significant risk factors for IH after OLT.

Conclusion:  IH following OLT has to be regarded a frequent complication. While technique of abdominal closure seems to have no impact, primary diagnosis and kind of immunosuppressive regimen exerted a significant influence on the formation of IH.