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Ann Surg. 1995 Dec;222(6):719-27.

Shouldice inguinal hernia repair in the male adult: the gold standard? A multicenter controlled trial in 1578 patients.

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Hôpital Louis Mourier, Columbes, France.



Hernia repair is the second most frequently performed operation in France and in the United States, the prevalence being 36 for every 1000 males. Lowering the recurrence rate by 1% would mean 1000 fewer operations for hernia repair per year in France.


Between 1983 and 1989, 1578 adult males with a total of 1706 nonrecurrent inguinal hernias were prospectively and randomly allotted to undergo either a Bassini's repair, Cooper's ligament, or Shouldice repair with polypropylene or a Shouldice repair with stainless steel for determination of which technique was associated with the lowest recurrence rate. Fifty-nine hernia repairs were withdrawn after inclusion. Of the 1647 remaining hernias, 52.2% were indirect, 25.6% were direct, and 23.2% were combined. Patients were seen every 6 months for 3 years and then every year. Median follow-up was 5 years 8 months (range, 3 months-8.5 years).


At 8.5 years, 5.6% of hernias were lost to follow-up. Ninety-seven hernia repairs failed, 50% during the first 2 years. The actuarial recurrence rate was 7.94% at 8.5 years. The Shouldice repair (stainless steel or polypropylene) was associated with fewer recurrences (6.1%) than either the Bassini's (8.6%) or Cooper's ligament repair (11.2%) technique (p < 0.001). This difference remained significant even when the maximal bias test was used. Fewer recurrences (5.9%) were observed with the stainless steel wire Shouldice repair than with polypropylene version (6.5%), but the difference was not significant.


Shouldice hernia repair provides the patient with the best chances of nonrecurrence regardless of the anatomical type of hernia. The Shouldice hernia repair should be the gold standard for inguinal hernia repair in men and serves as the basis for comparison with all other techniques, be they prosthetic or laparoscopic.

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