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Background: Incisional hernias are a common problem in general surgery and they have a varied aetiology. The aim of this study was to document a single unit experience with the management of incisional hernias at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Arica.
Patients and Methods: This was a prospective audit of incisional hernias in a single surgical unit from January 2001 to May 2004. All patients underwent open repair. Clinical data and intra-operative findings were documented.
Results: A total number of 77 patients were seen of which 70 were female. Fifty three (68.8%) and 24 (31.2%) of patients underwent elective and emergency surgery respectively. A total of 56 patients had previously undergone gynaecological surgery compared to 21 who had undergone general surgery. There was a documented history of previous sepsis in 4 (7%) of patients. There was 1 sheath defect in 36 patients, 2 defects in 9 patients, 3 defects in 10 patients, 4 or more defects in 9 cases. In 55 patients the original suture could not be identified. Gangrenous bowel was present in 3 patients. Only 3 (3.9%) of the patients had a mesh repair. The rest (96.1%) underwent tissue repair. Morbidity rate was 17% and there were no deaths. Five patients needed management in the ICU. Hospital stay was 8 + 11 years
Conclusion: Most incisional hernias followed gynaecological surgery. There was no evidence of a nonabsorbable suture having been used at the original operation in over half of the patients. We recommend that meticulous technique is essential in closing the abdominal incision.