• When polypropylene mesh (Marlex) is used to repair contaminated abdominal-wall hernias, a high incidence of mesh-related chronic infection, drainage, erosion, and bleeding is noted. As an alternative to placing polypropylene mesh in a contaminated field, in the past 18 months we have used an absorbable polyglycolic acid mesh (Dexon) to repair contaminated abdominal-wall defects in eight patients—three with necrotizing abdominal-wall infections, one with an extensive electrical burn of the abdominal wall, three with infected polypropylene mesh from a previous repair, and one whose hernia was covered by a chronically infected scar. In seven of the eight cases, a single sheet of polyglycolic acid mesh was sewn to the fascial margins. In four cases, skin was closed over the mesh; wound packing and subsequent skin grafting were required in the other four. In follow-up studies that ranged from three to 18 months, six of the eight patients developed abdominal-wall hernias at the site of absorbable mesh placement. None of the patients required an abdominal binder. Postoperative hernia development is probable in patients whose defects are repaired with absorbable mesh. However, this complication is balanced against the more serious complications of fistula, bleeding, skin erosion, drainage, and chronic infection, which require removal of the more rigid nonabsorbable meshes in 50% to 90% of cases when the latter are placed under contaminated conditions. Placement of absorbable mesh for temporary abdominal-wall support until wound contamination resolves enhances the likelihood of subsequent successful placement of a permanent mesh.
(Arch Surg 1986;121:954-960)