With advances in abdominal surgery and the management of major trauma, complex abdominal wall defects have become the new surgical disease, and the need for abdominal wall reconstruction has increased dramatically. Subsequently, how to reconstruct these large defects has become a new surgical question. While most surgeons use native abdominal wall whenever possible, evidence suggests that synthetic or biologic mesh needs to be added to large ventral hernia repairs. One particular group of patients who exemplify "complex" are those with contaminated wounds, enterocutaneous fistulas, enteroatmospheric fistulas, and/or stoma(s), where synthetic mesh is to be avoided if at all possible. Most recently, biologic mesh has become the new standard in high-risk patients with contaminated and dirty-infected wounds. While biologic mesh is the most common tissue engineered used in this field of surgery, level I evidence is needed on its indication and long-term outcomes. Various techniques for reconstructing the abdominal wall have been described, however the long-term outcomes for most of these studies, are rarely reported. In this article, I outline current practical approaches to perioperative management and definitive abdominal reconstruction in patients with complex abdominal wall defects, with or without fistulas, as well as those who have lost abdominal domain.
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