A J-shaped subcostal incision reduces the incidence of abdominal wall complications in liver transplantation
A novel J-shaped incision for liver transplantation was introduced in attempt to reduce the wound-related complication rate while maintaining comparable access. Some 58 consecutive patients with the classic Mercedes incision were compared with the following 60 consecutive patients with a J-shaped incision. Nine of 60 patients (15%) with a J-shaped incision were converted to an extensive incision. The duration of surgery did not differ between both groups, and relaparotomy rates were comparable in both groups (45% versus 31%, P = 0.487) whereas the early wound-related morbidity was significantly reduced in the J-shaped incision group (3% versus 19%, P = 0.009), as well as incisional hernia rate (7% versus 24%, P = 0.002, corrected for different length of follow-up). Other factors such as previous surgery, ascites, abdominal drainage, retransplantation, and indications for transplantation did not differ between both groups and were not predictive of wound-related morbidity or incisional hernia. We therefore conclude that a J-shaped incision should be the incision of choice in liver transplantation. This new, seemingly minor modification reduces wound infections, fascial dehiscence, and incisional hernia.