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Safety and effectiveness of umbilical hernia repair in patients with cirrhosis

  • S. Hew
  • W. Yu
  • S. Robson
  • G. Starkey
  • A. Testro
  • M. Fink
  • P. Angus
  • P. Gow
Original Article



Umbilical hernia is a common complication in patients with cirrhosis. Early studies have reported a high morbidity and mortality associated with hernia repair. The traditional approach has been to non-operatively manage umbilical hernias in patients with cirrhosis. There are emerging data suggesting that an elective repair is a preferable approach. This study examined the outcomes of umbilical hernia repair in patients with advanced liver disease and compared this with a control group of non-cirrhotic patients.


Prospective data were collected regarding the outcome of umbilical hernia repairs performed between 2004 and 2013 at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Outcomes at 90 days were compared between patients with and without cirrhosis.


79 patients with cirrhosis and 249 controls were analysed. Of the patients with cirrhosis, 9% were classified as Child–Pugh A, 61% were Child–Pugh B and 30% were Child–Pugh C. Emergency repairs for complicated hernias was undertaken in 18% of the cirrhosis population and 10% in controls (P = 0.10). Post-operative complications occurred more commonly in patients with cirrhosis (26%) compared with controls (11%) (P < 0.01). Emergency hernia repairs were associated with a higher complication rate in both patients with cirrhosis (62%) and controls (20%) (P = 0.01). There was no significant difference in the rate of hernia recurrence as assessed by clinical examination between patients with cirrhosis (2.7%) and controls (6.8%) (P = 0.17) nor in 90-day mortality between patients with cirrhosis (n = 1, 1.3%) and the controls (n = 0) (P = 0.43).


Within the limitations of a small study cohort and therefore an underpowered study, elective surgical repair of umbilical hernias in patients with cirrhosis, including decompensated cirrhosis, may not be associated with a significant increase in mortality when compared to a control cohort. Whilst complications are higher in cirrhotic patients, there is no difference in the rate of hernia recurrence. Emergency repairs of umbilical hernias are associated with a high complication rate in cirrhotic patients.


Umbilical hernia repair Cirrhosis Complications Mortality 


Author contributions

SH, GS, AT, MF and PG were involved in conceptualisation of the study. SH, WY and SR performed data collection and analysis. SH and WY performed the statistical analysis. SH, MF and PG drafted the manuscript. SH, WY, SR, GS, AT, MF, PA and PG contributed to the editing and production of the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This retrospective study received ethical approval from the Austin Health's Human Research Ethics Committee.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Hew
    • 1
  • W. Yu
    • 1
  • S. Robson
    • 1
  • G. Starkey
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Testro
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Fink
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Angus
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Gow
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Liver Transplant Unit, Department of GastroenterologyAustin HospitalHeidelbergAustralia
  2. 2.University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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