Costs and Complications Associated with Infected Mesh for Ventral Hernia Repair

Margaret A. Plymale, Daniel L. Davenport, Seth Walsh-Blackmore, Jordan Hess, William Scott Griffiths, Mary C. Plymale, Crystal F. Totten, John Scott Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Mesh hernia repair is widely accepted because of the associated reduction in hernia recurrence compared with suture-based repair. Despite initiatives to reduce risk, mesh infection and mesh removal are a significant challenge. In an era of healthcare value, it is essential to understand the global cost of care, including the incidence and cost of complications. The purpose of this study was to identify the outcomes and costs of care of patients who required the removal of infected hernia mesh. Methods: A review of databases from 2006 through June 2018 identified patients who underwent both ventral hernia repair (VHR) and re-operation for infected mesh removal. Patient demographic and operative details for both procedures, including age, Body Mass Index, mesh type, amount of time between procedures, and information regarding interval procedures were obtained. Clinical outcome measures were the length of the hospital stay, hospital re-admission, incision/non-incision complications, and re-operation. Hospital cost data were obtained from the cost accounting system and were combined with the clinical data for a cost and clinical representation of the cases. Results: Thirty-four patients underwent both VHR and removal of infected mesh material over the 12-year time frame and were included in the analyses; the average age at VHR was 48 years, and 16 patients (47%) were female. Following VHR, 21 patients (62%) experienced incision complications within 90 days post-operatively, the complications ranging from superficial surgical site infection (SSI) to evisceration. A mean of 22.65 months passed between procedures. After mesh removal, 16 patients (47%) experienced further incisional complications; and 22 (65%) patients had at least one re-admission. Eighteen patients (53%) required a minimum of one additional related operative procedure after mesh removal. Median hospital costs nearly doubled (p < 0.001) for the mesh removal ($23,841 [interquartile range {IQR} $13,596-$42,148]) compared with the VHR admission ($13,394 [IQR $8,424-$22,161]) not accounting for re-admission costs. A majority experienced hernia recurrence subsequent to mesh removal. Conclusions: Mesh infection after hernia repair is associated with significant morbidity and costs. Hospital re-admission, re-operations, and recurrences are common among these patients, resulting in greater healthcare resource utilization. Development of strategies to prevent mesh infection, identify patients most likely to experience infectious complications, and define best practices for the care of patients with mesh infection are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-348
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.


  • healthcare resources
  • mesh infection
  • surgical mesh
  • surgical site infections
  • ventral hernia repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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