The cost of preventable comorbidities on wound complications in open ventral hernia repair

Tiffany C. Cox, Laurel J. Blair, Ciara R. Huntington, Paul D. Colavita, Tanushree Prasad, Amy E. Lincourt, B. Todd Heniford, Vedra A. Augenstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Background Patients with complex ventral hernias may benefit from preoperative optimization. This study evaluates the financial impact of preventable comorbidities (PCM) in elective open ventral hernia repair. Methods In this single institution prospectively collected data from 2007-2011, hospital charges (included all hernia-related visits, interventions, or readmissions) and wound-related complications in patients with PCM—diabetes, tobacco use, and obesity—were compared to patients without such risks using standard statistical methods. Results Within the study period, there were 118 patients with no PCM; of those, 33 had complications, and 85 did not. In the 131 patients with two or more PCM, 81 had complications; 89 of 251 patients had complications in the group with only 1 PCM; groups with PCM were significantly more likely to have complications compared to the no PCM group (62% versus 35.4% versus 28%, P < 0.05). The majority of the patient population was female (57.2%) with a mean age of 57.8 y (range, 22-84 ys), and median defect size was 150 cm2 (interquartile range, 50-283 cm2). Body mass index was higher in PCM group with complications than in PCM without complications (40 versus 36 kg/m2, P < 0.05). For patients with complications, the average hospital charges were $80,660 in the PCM group compared to $55,444 in the no PCM group (P = 0.038). Hospital charges in those with PCM without complications compared to no PCM with complications were equivalent ($65,453 versus $55,444, P = 0.55). Even when no complications occurred, patients with PCM incurred higher charges than No PCM for inpatient ($61,269 versus $31,236, P < 0.02), outpatient ($4,185 versus $552, P < 0.04), and total hospital charges ($65,453 versus $31,788, P ≤ 0.001). Those patients without complications but with a single PCM incurred larger charges than those with no PCM during follow-up ($3578 versus $552, P = 0.04), but there was no difference in hospital or overall total charges (P > 0.05). Interestingly, patients without complications, both hospital ($38,333 versus $61,269, P = 0.02) and total charges ($41,911 versus $65,453, P = 0.01) were increased for patients with 2+ PCM compared to those with only a single PCM. If complications occurred, no difference between the single PCM group compared to the two or more PCM groups existed for hospital, follow-up, or overall charges (P > 0.05). Conclusions Patients with PCM undergoing open ventral hernia repair are more likely to have complications than patients without comorbidities. Patients with PCM generate higher hospital charges than those without PCM even when no complications occur; furthermore, the more PCM, the patient has the more significant the impact. Interestingly, patients with multiple PCM and no complications had equivalent hospital costs compared to patients with no PCM and with complications. Aggressive risk reduction may translate into significant savings. Preoperative preparation of patients before elective surgery is indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Charges
  • Comorbidities
  • Cost
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Open ventral hernia repair
  • Outcomes assessment
  • Smoking
  • Ventral hernia
  • Wound complications


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