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      The general surgeon’s perspective of rectus diastasis. A systematic review of treatment options


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          Diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscles (DRAM) is characterised by thinning and widening of the linea alba, combined with laxity of the ventral abdominal musculature. This causes the midline to “bulge” when intra-abdominal pressure is increased. Plastic surgery treatment for DRAM has been thoroughly evaluated, though general surgical treatments and the efficacy of physiotherapy remain elusive. The aim of this systematic literature review is to evaluate both general surgical and physiotherapeutic treatment options for restoring DRAM in terms of postoperative complications, patient satisfaction, and recurrence rates.


          MEDLINE ®, Embase, PubMed, PubMed Central ®, The cochrane central registry of controlled trials (CENTRAL), Google Scholar, and the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) were searched using the following terms: ‘rectus diastasis’, ‘diastasis recti’, ‘midline’, and ‘abdominal wall’. All clinical studies concerning general surgical or physiotherapeutic treatment of DRAM were eligible for inclusion.


          Twenty articles describing 1.691 patients (1.591 surgery/100 physiotherapy) were included. Surgical interventions were classified as plication techniques (313 patients; 254 open/59 laparoscopic), modified hernia repair techniques (68 patients, all open), and combined hernia & DRAM techniques (1.210 patients; 1.149 open/40 hybrid). The overall methodological quality was low. Plication techniques with interrupted sutures and mesh reinforcement were applied most frequently for DRAM repair. Open repairs were performed in 85% of patients. There was no difference in postoperative complications or recurrence rate after laparoscopic or open procedures, or between plication and modified hernia repair techniques. Physiotherapy programmes were unable to reduce IRD in a relaxed state. Though reduction of IRD during muscle contraction was described.


          Both plication-based methods and hernia repair methods are used for DRAM repair. Based on the current literature, no clear distinction in recurrence rate, postoperative complications, or patient reported outcomes can be made. Complete resolution of DRAM, measured in a relaxed state, following a physiotherapy training programme is not described in current literature. Physiotherapy can achieve a limited reduction in IRD during muscle contraction, though the impact of this finding on patient satisfaction, cosmesis, or function outcome is unclear.

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          Most cited references 39

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          The treatment of complicated groin and incisional hernias.

           R Stoppa (2015)
          One hundred years ago, Edoardo Bassini said: "L'ernia é una malattia meccanica." Before that, Ambroise Paré (1598) and Joseph-Pierre Desault (1798) asserted the mechanical nature of strangulation. Beside strangulation, the most serious of all complications even today, I have studied huge hernias, which are natural complications, and recurrent hernias, which are the complications of suboptimal repairs. In this article, I consider the general features and diagnostic and technical consequences of the repair of groin and incisional hernias. The treatment of strangulating hernias, usually an emergency operation, has not seen any recent technical progress. Huge and recurrent hernias, however, usually allow time for adequate surgical preparation. These hernias are also amenable to modern prosthetic repairs. In prosthetic repairs, large pieces of polyester mesh are inserted beneath the muscular wall outside the peritoneum. They act as artificial, nonabsorbable endoabdominal fascia, making the abdominal wall instantly and definitively pressure tight. The state of hernial surgery has advanced to the point that one must consider the systematic surgical cure of all diagnosed hernias.
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            The treatment of complicated groin and incisional hernias

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              The normal width of the linea alba in nulliparous women.

              The function of the linea alba is to maintain the abdominal muscles at a certain proximity to each other. In the case of long-lasting increased intra-abdominal pressure, the linea alba widens. Yet, as the existence of the linea a priori implicates a physiological distance between the two rectus muscles, the question arises as to what the normal width of the linea alba is. To evaluate the normal width of the linea alba, we examined 150 nulliparous women between 20 and 45 years of age with a body mass index < 30 kg m(-2) by ultrasound at three reference points: the origin at the xiphoid and 3 cm above and 2 cm below the umbilicus. The examination revealed a broad range of widths at the three reference points. The linea was widest at 3 cm above the umbilicus (-35 mm), followed by the reference point 2 cm below the umbilicus (-31 mm) and the origin at the xiphoid (-31 mm). The mean width was 7 +/- 5 mm at the xiphoid and 13 +/- 7 mm above and 8 +/- 6 mm below the umbilicus. For the definition of the normal width of the linea, the 10th and 90th percentiles were taken. The linea alba can be considered "normal" up to a width of 15 mm at the xiphoid, up to 22 mm at the reference point 3 cm above the umbilicus and up to 16 mm at the reference point 2 cm below the umbilicus in nulliparous women.

                Author and article information

                +31 (0)43 388 2222 , e.mommers@maastrichtuniversity.nl
                Surg Endosc
                Surg Endosc
                Surgical Endoscopy
                Springer US (New York )
                8 June 2017
                8 June 2017
                : 31
                : 12
                : 4934-4949
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0480 1382, GRID grid.412966.e, Department of Surgery, , Maastricht University Medical Center, ; Maastricht, The Netherlands
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0398 8384, GRID grid.413532.2, Department of Surgery, , Catharina Hospital, ; Eindhoven, The Netherlands
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0409 6003, GRID grid.414480.d, Department of Surgery, , Elkerliek Hospital, ; Helmond, The Netherlands
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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