Preoperative progressive pneumoperitoneum complementing chemical component relaxation in complex ventral hernia repair

Kristen E. Elstner, John W. Read, Omar Rodriguez-Acevedo, Kevin Ho-Shon, John Magnussen, Nabeel Ibrahim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A rarely used technique for enabling closure of large ventral hernias with loss of domain is preoperative progressive pneumoperitoneum (PPP), which uses intermittent insufflation to gradually stretch the contracted abdominal wall muscles, increasing the capacity of the abdominal cavity. This allows the re-introduction of herniated viscera into the abdominal cavity and assists in closure of giant hernias which may otherwise be considered inoperable. Methods: This was a prospective study assessing 16 patients between 2013 and 2015 with multi-recurrent ventral hernia. All patients were treated preoperatively with both Botulinum Toxin A (BTA) injections to the lateral abdominal wall muscles to confer flaccid paralysis, and short-term PPP to passively expand the abdominal cavity. All patients underwent serial abdominal CT imaging, with pre- and post-treatment circumference measurements of the peritoneal cavity and hernia sac, prior to undergoing operative mesh repair of their hernia. Results: The mean hernia defect size was 236 cm2, with mean 28 % loss of domain. The mean overall duration of PPP was 6.2 days. The mean gain in abdominal circumference was 4.9 cm (5.6 %) (p 0.002) after BTA and PPP. Fascial closure and mesh hernia repair were performed in all 16 patients, with no patients suffering from postoperative abdominal hypertension, ventilatory impairment, or wound dehiscence. There are no hernia recurrences to date. Eight patients (50 %) experienced PPP-related complications, consisting of subcutaneous emphysema, pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, pneumocardium, and metabolic acidosis. No complication required intervention. Conclusions: PPP is a useful adjunct in the repair of complex ventral hernia. It passively expands the abdominal cavity, allowing viscera to re-establish right of domain. At the same time, it helps to minimize the risks of postoperative abdominal compartment syndrome and the sequelae of fascial closure under tension. However, its benefits must be carefully weighed with the risk of serious complications, such as infection, perforation, pneumothorax, and pneumomediastinum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1914-1922
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
EventSAGES Annual Meeting (2016) - Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, Boston, United States
Duration: 16 Mar 201619 Mar 2016


  • preoperative progressive pneumoperitoneum
  • botulinum toxin A
  • complex ventral hernia
  • incisional hernia
  • loss of domain


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