Background: Patients undergoing abdominal wall reconstruction are at increased risk of postoperative respiratory failure. Understanding the epidemiology of this complication may guide preventive efforts. Methods: The authors performed a population-based retrospective cohort study of adults undergoing elective abdominal wall reconstruction (ventral hernia repair with component separation) in the United States from 2004 through 2011 using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Results: Of 2283 patients undergoing elective abdominal wall reconstruction, 57 percent were women, with a median age of 57 years, median hospital stay of 5 days, and mean total cost of $23,730. Postoperative respiratory failure occurred in 212 patients (9.3 percent), 164 patients (7.2 percent) were discharged to a skilled nursing facility, and 18 patients (0.8 percent) died. On multivariate analysis, age, male sex, congestive heart failure, lung disease, obesity, and obstructive sleep apnea were independently associated with increased risk of respiratory failure. Respiratory failure was associated with significantly increased risk of death and discharge to a skilled nursing facility as well as significantly increased total cost and hospital length of stay. Conclusions: Respiratory failure is an uncommon but devastating complication of abdominal wall reconstruction. The authors report clinical risk factors that may facilitate perioperative risk-reduction strategies to improve outcomes of elective abdominal wall reconstruction.
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