Abdominal wall reconstruction is an advanced surgical procedure for strengthening a weakened abdominal muscle. It is usually performed as a last line of defense once other surgeries have failed.
The front portion of the abdomen known as "the core," is a unique structure comprised of overlapping muscles and tendons that provide strength to the body. It provides support and protects the intestines, while allowing breathing and movement. Any injury, damage or weakness of this structure may result in mild to severe back pain, abdominal pain, discomfort or imbalance.
At Albany Medical Center our reconstructive and general surgeons are experts in abdominal reconstructive surgery. Utilizing the most sophisticated techniques and state-of-the art technology, our surgeons have formed a multidisciplinary partnership to offer their combined skills and experience on these complex cases.
Hernias and Abdominal Wall Defects
Many patients with a variety of intestinal, solid organ, and gynecologic problems require abdominal surgery. While many of these operations can be performed laparoscopically (utilizing a small camera and small incisions), larger surgeries may require an incision called a laparotomy. This incision can sometimes disrupt normal muscle and tendon attachments to the abdominal wall, and can cause an incisional hernia.
One of every 10 patients who undergo abdominal surgery can experience this complication.
Once a hernia occurs, it can worsen over time. Large hernias can lead to significant stress on the spine, and cause debilitating back pain. Hernias can also expand, leading to worsening symptoms. In some cases, hernias can cause the intestines to twist, leading to bowel obstructions that require an emergency surgery.
Rebuilding the Abdominal Wall
Albany Medical Center’s fellowship-trained reconstructive surgeons work closely with our general surgeons to explore other options before reconstructing an abdominal wall.
When reconstruction is appropriate, the goals of the surgery are to reinforce the integrity of the abdomen, support the abdominal muscles, protect the intestines and prevent them from protruding through the abdominal wall.
During surgery, our surgeons rearrange the abdominal muscles with the goal of effectively eliminating the weakness or defect. They typically reinforce the newly positioned muscles with a biologic mesh made of animal tissue. This organic mesh, which is eventually incorporated into the body, presents a far lower risk of infection when compared to synthetic materials.
The aim is to produce a restored abdominal wall with enough integrity, strength and flexibility to withstand intense physical activity. This specific type of abdominal wall reconstruction generally has an extremely low rate of relapse, meaning the results are likely to last for a lifetime.
Abdominal reconstructive surgery may involve several procedures to restore the anatomy of the abdomen and improve function and appearance.
The recovery process for individuals undergoing abdominal reconstructive surgery depends on the complexity of injury and the type of procedure performed among many other factors. If you undergo this procedure, your surgeon will discuss this in detail with you.