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Fam Pract. 2000 Oct;17(5):442-7.

Evidence-based management of groin hernia in primary care--a systematic review.

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Section of Public Health, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK.



National clinical guidelines on the surgical management of groin hernia have been published by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. There is also a need for guidance on the management of pre- and post-hernia repair patients in primary care, in areas such as diagnosis, referral and advice on recuperation.


The purpose of the present study was to determine best practice in primary care aspects of managing groin hernia in adults, by examination of the evidence base.


A systematic review of the available evidence was carried out, searching the major electronic databases: Medline, the Cochrane Library, Embase, Assia, Helmis, Cinahl and Psyclit. Key search terms were hern$, inguinal, femoral, groin, truss$, with searches limited to human adult subjects and the English language.


Robust research on groin hernia is concerned almost exclusively with the in-patient surgical management of patients undergoing primary elective hernia repair. The areas with which this review was concerned, principally diagnosis, referral and advice about return to work, are areas in which it is more difficult to conduct robustly designed studies. Perhaps because of this, the evidence base on the non-surgical aspects of management is of poor methodological quality, being based primarily on expert opinion, reviews of clinical practice and experience, surveys, descriptive case studies and clinical audits.


As the research in this area is generally of poor quality, strong conclusions are precluded, but it is possible to define best practice in some areas of care. In relation to diagnosis, GPs should distinguish correctly between a femoral and inguinal hernia because of the increased risks of strangulation and incarceration associated with the former. Due to clinical inaccuracy, the identification of whether a hernia is direct or indirect is not a good basis on which to base decision making regarding referral for elective repair. The risks associated with surgical repair are those of the normal range found for any procedure. Decisions about the fitness of patients for surgery in this instance are not procedure specific, and therefore the decisions about elective repair especially in older patients should be considered in terms of quality of life and patient choice rather than increased risks with surgical repair. Further research is required to address the gap in the evidence for the management of groin hernia within the primary care sector.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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