Watchful waiting for ventral hernias: A longitudinal study

Charles F. Bellows, Celia Robinson, Robert J. Fitzgibbons, Larry S. Webber, David H. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Ventral hernias are a common clinical problem. Immediate repair is recommended for most ventral hernias despite significant recurrence rates. This practice may be related to a lack of understanding of the natural history of ventral hernias. The purpose of this study was to determine the natural history of ventral hernias and to determine if watchful waiting is an acceptable and safe option. Forty-one patients with ventral hernias were enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study of watchful waiting. Primary outcomes were functional impairment resulting from hernia disease as measured by the Activities Assessment Scale (AAS) and changes from baseline to two years in the physical and mental component score of the SF-36 Health Survey. Secondary outcomes included complications such as incarceration. Mixed-effects model for repeated measures and Student's t tests were used to evaluate scale performance. The mean age of enrollees was 64 years, and the mean hernia size was 239 cm2. Eleven patients were lost to follow-up, and seven patients died of other causes. All remaining patients were followed for two years. There was one incarceration during the follow-up period. There was no deterioration in the AAS score (baseline vs 24 months 5 28 vs 25, P 5 0.60). There was deterioration of the physical functioning dimension of the SF-36 (baseline vs 24 months 5 40 vs 32, P\0.01), but the mental functioning dimension was improved (45 vs 51; P 5 0.01).Watchful waiting was a safe option for patients in this study with ventral hernias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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