Introduction: Umbilical hernia repair (UHR) using mesh has been demonstrated to significantly reduce recurrence. However, many surgical centers still perform tissue repair for UH. In the present study, we assessed a cohort of veteran patients undergoing a standard open tissue repair for primary UH to determine at which size recurrence may preclude tissue repair. A systematic review of the literature on hernia size recommendations to guide mesh placement was performed. Methods: A single-institution single-surgeon retrospective review of all patients undergoing open tissue repair of primary UH (n = 344) was undertaken at the VA North Texas Health Care System between 2005 and 2019. Guidelines for the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analysis were undertaken for systematic review. Results: A literature review yielded inconsistent guidance for a specific hernia size to proceed with tissue vs. mesh repair. Our institutional review yielded 17 (4.9%) recurrences. Univariable analysis demonstrated recurrence to be associated with hernia size (2.8 vs. 2.3 cm; P =.04). However, on multivariable analysis, hernia size was demonstrated as not an independent predictor of recurrence [OR 1.47 (95% CI;.97-2.21; P =.07)]. Conclusion: A review of the literature suggests mesh placement most commonly when the hernia size is > 2.0 cm; however, sources of evidence are heterogeneous in study design, patient population, and hernia types studied. Our institutional review demonstrated that primary UHs < 2.3 cm can successfully be treated via tissue repair. Larger, recurrent, incisional, and primary epigastric hernias may benefit from mesh placement.
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