, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 275-280,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Mar 2009

Incisional hernia after upper abdominal surgery: a randomised controlled trial of midline versus transverse incision

Abstract

Objectives

To determine whether a transverse incision is an alternative to a midline incision in terms of incisional hernia incidence, surgical site infection, postoperative pain, hospital stay and cosmetics in cholecystectomy.

Summary background data

Incisional hernias after midline incision are commonly underestimated but probably complicate between 2 and 20% of all abdominal wall closures. The midline incision is the preferred incision for surgery of the upper abdomen despite evidence that alternatives, such as the lateral paramedian and transverse incision, exist and might reduce the rate of incisional hernia. A RCT was preformed in the pre-laparoscopic cholecystectomy era the data of which were never published.

Methods

One hundred and fifty female patients were randomly allocated to cholecystectomy through midline or transverse incision. Early complications, the duration to discharge and the in-hospital use of analgesics was noted. Patients returned to the surgical outpatient clinic for evaluation of the cosmetic results of the scar and to evaluate possible complications such as fistula, wound dehiscence and incisional hernia after a minimum of 12 months follow-up.

Results

Two percent (1/60) of patients that had undergone the procedure through a transverse incision presented with an incisional hernia as opposed to 14% (9/63) of patients from the midline incision group (P = 0.017). Transverse incisions were found to be significantly shorter than midline incisions and associated with more pleasing appearance. More patients having undergone a midline incision, reported pain on day one, two and three postoperatively than patients from the transverse group. The use of analgesics did not differ between the two groups.

Conclusions

In light of our results a transverse incision should, if possible, be considered as the preferred incision in acute and elective surgery of the upper abdomen when laparoscopic surgery is not an option.