Background: In recent decades, biologic mesh (BM) has become an important adjunct to surgical practice. Recent evidence-based clinical applications of BM include but are not limited to: reconstruction of abdominal wall defects; breast reconstruction; face, head and neck surgery; periodontal surgery; other hernia repairs (diaphragmatic, hiatal/paraesophageal, inguinal and perineal); hand surgery; and shoulder arthroplasty. Prior systematic reviews of BM in complex abdominal wall hernia repair had several shortcomings that our comprehensive review seeks to address, including exclusion of laparoscopic repair, assessment of risk of bias, use of an acceptable meta-analytic method and review of risk factors identified in multivariable regression analyses. Materials and methods: We sought articles of BM for open ventral hernia repair reporting on early complications, late complications or recurrences and included minimum of 50. We used the quality in prognostic studies risk of bias assessment tool. Random effects meta-analysis was applied. Results: This comprehensive review selected 62 articles from 51 studies that included 6,079 patients. Meta-analytic pooling found that early complications are present in about 50%, surgical site occurrences (SSOs) in 37%, surgical site infections (SSIs) in 18%, reoperation in 7%, readmission in 20% and mortality in 3%. Meta-analytic estimates of late outcomes included overall complications (42%), SSOs (40%) and SSIs (22%). Specific SSOs included seroma (14%), hematoma (4%), abscess (10%), necrosis (5%), dehiscence (8%) and fistula formation (5%). Reoperation occurred in about 17%, mesh explantation in 9% and recurrence in 36%. Conclusion: Estimates of nearly all outcomes from individual studies were highly heterogeneous and sensitivity analyses and meta-regressions generally failed to explain this heterogeneity. Recurrence is the only outcome for which there are consistent findings for risk factors. Bridge placement of BM is associated with higher risk of recurrence. Prior hernia repair, history of reintervention and history of mesh removal were also risk factors for increased recurrence.
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