Comparison of primary closure of incisional hernias in horses with and without the use of prosthetic mesh support


Present address: Edisto Equine Clinic 7796 White Point Road, Yonges Island, South Carolina 29449, USA. Email:


Reasons for performing study: Repair of incisional hernias in horses has been described previously; however, this report describes the outcome of primary closure of incisional hernias in a large number of horses and compares these results with those of mesh implantation.

Objective: To report the perioperative care, complications and long-term outcome of primary closure of incisional hernias in horses and to compare these results with a second population of horses in which prosthetic mesh was used.

Methods: Medical records of horses undergoing an incisional herniorrhaphy between 1998 and 2009 were reviewed. Information obtained included case details, factors from the initial surgery that contributed to the hernia formation, method of hernia repair and outcome. Comparisons between horses with and without mesh were made using logistic regression.

Results: Thirty-eight horses with primary closure and 9 horses with mesh implantation met inclusion criteria. Long-term follow-up for cases in which a mesh was not used was available for 25 cases; of these, 21 horses (84%) had a normal cosmetic appearance and 4 (16%) had a visible defect. There was no significant difference between the 2 repair methods in terms of age, sex, breed, weight, size of the hernia, number of defects, timing of the repair or cosmetic outcome. Horses in which a mesh was used had significantly longer duration of surgery and hospitalisation, and were significantly more likely to develop post operative complications while having a longer duration of convalescence prior to return to use.

Conclusions: Primary apposition of incisional hernias in horses without the use of mesh support appears to result in a good cosmetic outcome while avoiding the complications associated with mesh implantation in this population of horses.

Potential relevance: Surgical time, duration of hospitalisation, and post operative complications may be reduced by using this technique of primary repair and avoiding mesh implantation.