The abdominal wall consists of three layers of muscle and surrounding connective tissue, called fascia, that hold organs in place internally. Weaknesses in the fascia and muscles can occur for various reasons, but primarily are due to traumatic injuries or surgical incisions that disrupt the integrity of the abdominal wall. These weaknesses can result in a hernia. Once a hernia occurs, it can worsen over time causing degrees of medical problems including abdominal discomfort, digestive issues, bowel obstruction, fistulae, etc. Abdominal wall reconstruction is a complex surgery that is used to aid in the correction of abdominal wall hernias. This type of surgery is usually the second planned procedure if the initial, more typical hernia repair fails.
About the Procedure
When abdominal wall repair is appropriate, the goals are to realign abdominal fascia and muscle, protect intra-abdominal organs, prevent organs from protruding through the abdominal wall, reinforce the integrity of the muscle and fascia, and enhance aesthetic appearance of the abdomen. Surgery is usually combined with the assistance of a general surgeon to help protect and/or repair internal organs before beginning with wall reconstruction. Once abdominal muscles have been identified and rearranged the newly positioned muscles are reinforced with a biologic mesh made of animal tissue, which eventually incorporates into the body and reduces risk of recurrence.
Recovery from Abdominal Wall Reconstruction
Generally, an inpatient stay of approximately 5-7 days is necessary after abdominal wall reconstruction, but the post-operative experience will vary for each patient. Pain during recovery is best managed with an epidural. Patients are discharged once bowel function returns to normal, ambulating well, pain controlled, and tolerating a regular diet.