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Am Surg. 1998 Jun;64(6):569-73; discussion 573-4.

Recurrent inguinal hernia: preferred operative approach.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee at Memphis, USA.


Inguinal herniorrhaphy remains one of the most common general surgical operations, with approximately 10 to 20 per cent performed for recurrence. Subsequent repairs provide considerable technical challenge, as well as substantially greater risk of developing further recurrence. Mesh repair is advocated by several specialized hernia centers, demonstrating re-recurrence rates less than 2 per cent. Detractors of this repair include cost, technical difficulty, and risk for infection. The purpose of this study was to compare results of mesh and nonmesh repairs for recurrent inguinal hernia, either using an anterior or posterior approach, at a large teaching institution. From January 1, 1985, to December 31, 1994, 146 patients underwent repair for recurrent inguinal hernia at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Memphis, Tennessee. Patients were stratified by type of repair: Lichtenstein (Mesh), open anterior (OA), Bassini, Marcy, McVay, Shouldice, and preperitoneal with or without mesh. Patient ages and weights were similar between groups. Mean operative time for Mesh repair (104 +/- 4 minutes) was longer than that for OA repairs (80 +/- 5 minutes, P < 0.05) or preperitoneal without mesh repairs (92 +/- 5 minutes, P < 0.05). Mesh-based posterior repairs had the longest operative times (116 +/- 5 minutes). Hospital stay averaged 2.8 +/- 0.3 days, similar among all groups. One wound infection (1.0%) occurred in patients undergoing Mesh repair, which required operative drainage. No patient required removal of mesh. Two patients in the Mesh group (5.9%) developed recurrence compared with four recurrences (18.0%) in patients undergoing OA repairs. Only one patient with a mesh-based posterior repair recurred (1.9%) compared to eight without mesh (21.6%, P < 0.01). Follow-up ranged from 2 to 12 years. Repair of recurrent inguinal hernia using either an anterior or posterior mesh repair technique, performed at a teaching facility, provides superior recurrence rates without increasing risk for infection or length of stay. Preperitoneal mesh based repair is the preferred technique.

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