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World J Surg. 2013 Mar;37(3):498-503. doi: 10.1007/s00268-012-1864-x.

Characterizing the global burden of surgical disease: a method to estimate inguinal hernia epidemiology in Ghana.

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Department of Surgery, University of California San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Avenue, S321, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



Surgical conditions represent an immense yet underrecognized source of disease burden globally. Characterizing the burden of surgical disease has been defined as a priority research agenda in global surgery. Little is known about the epidemiology of inguinal hernia, a common easily treatable surgical condition, in resource-poor settings.


Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey prospective cohort study of inguinal hernia, we created a method to estimate hernia epidemiology in Ghana. We calculated inguinal hernia incidence and prevalence using Ghanaian demographic data and projected hernia prevalence under three surgical rate and hernia incidence scenarios. Disability adjusted life-years (DALYs) associated with inguinal hernia along with costs for surgical repair were estimated.


According to this approach, the prevalence of inguinal hernia in the Ghanaian general population is 3.15% (range 2.79-3.50%). Symptomatic hernias number 530,082 (range 469,501-588,980). The annual incidence of symptomatic hernias is 210 (range 186-233) per 100,000 population. At the estimated Ghanaian hernia repair rate of 30 per 100,000, a backlog of 1 million hernias in need of repair develop over 10 years. The cost of repairing all symptomatic hernias in Ghana is estimated at US $53 million, and US $106 million would be required to eliminate hernias over a 10-year period. Nearly 5 million DALYs would be averted with the repair of prevalent cases of symptomatic hernia in Ghana.


Data generated by our method indicate the extent to which Ghana lacks the surgical capacity to address its significant inguinal hernia disease burden. This approach provides a simple framework for calculating inguinal hernia epidemiology in resource-poor settings that may be used for advocacy and program planning in multiple country contexts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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