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Lancet. 1999 Jul 17;354(9174):185-90.

Laparoscopic versus open repair of groin hernia: a randomised comparison. The MRC Laparoscopic Groin Hernia Trial Group.

[No authors listed]



Repair of a groin hernia is one of the most common elective operations performed in general surgery. Our aim was to compare laparoscopic repair with open repair of groin hernia.


928 patients with groin hernia, from 26 hospitals in the UK and Ireland, were randomly assigned to laparoscopic repair (n=468) or to open hernia repair (n=460, of which 433 were tension-free mesh repairs). Patients were clinically assessed at 1 week and 1 year after surgery, and were sent questionnaires at 3 months and 1 year. The primary endpoints were: complications; return to usual activities of social life (as the most generally applicable example of return to usual activities); hernia recurrence; groin pain that persisted at 1 year; and costs to the health services. All analyses were by intention to treat.


At 1 week, at least one complication was found in 108 (29.9%) patients allocated to laparoscopic repair and in 155 (43.5%) patients allocated to open repair (95% CI for difference -20.6% to -6.6%, p<0.001). There were three serious surgical complications all of which occurred in the laparoscopic group. Patients in the laparoscopic group returned to the usual activities of social life sooner than the patients in the open repair group (10 [IQR 7-21] vs 14 [7-28] days, p=0.004). At 1 year after the operation, the laparoscopic group had a lower rate of persistent groin pain than those who had open repair (28.7% vs 36.7% [95% CI for difference -14.7% to -1.4%], p=0.018). However, all seven hernia recurrences occurred in the laparoscopic group and not in the open repair group (1.9% vs 0.0% [95% CI for difference 0.5% to 3.4%], p=0.017).


Although laparoscopic hernia repair has advantages for patients, concerns about safety indicate that open repair is the more appropriate option for the general surgeon. Our findings lend support to the move towards laparoscopic hernia surgery becoming part of the domain of specialist surgeons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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