Laparoscopic or Open Inguinal Hernia Repair - Which is Best for the Patient?
Abstract: Inguinal hernia repair is the most common operation in general surgery. Its main challenge is to achieve low recurrence rates. With the introduction of mesh implants, first in open and later in laparoscopic repair, recurrence rates have decreased substantially. Therefore, the focus has been shifted from clinical outcome, such as recurrence, towards patient-experienced endpoints, such as chronic pain. In order to compare the results of open and laparoscopic hernia repair, a randomised multicentre trial - the Swedish Multicentre trial of Inguinal hernia repair by Laparoscopy (SMIL) - was designed by a study group from 11 hospitals.Between November 1996 and August 2000, 1512 men aged 30-70 years with a primary inguinal hernia were randomised to either laparoscopic (TEP, Totally ExtraPeritoneal) or open (Lichtenstein) repair. The primary endpoint was recurrence at five years. Secondary endpoints were short-term results, frequency of chronic pain and a cost analysis including complications and recurrences up to five years after surgery.In total, 1370 patients, 665 in the TEP and 705 in the Lichtenstein group, underwent operation.With 94% of operated patients available for follow-up after 5.1 years, the recurrence rate was 3.5% in the TEP and 1.2% in the Lichtenstein group.Postoperative pain was lower in the TEP group up to 12 weeks after operation, resulting in five days less sick leave and 11 days shorter time to full recovery. Patients in the TEP group had a slightly increased risk of major complications.Chronic pain was reported by 9-11% of patients in the TEP and 19-25% in the Lichtenstein group at the different follow-up points.Hospital costs for TEP were higher than for Lichtenstein, while community costs were lower due to shorter sick leave. By avoiding disposable laparoscopic equipment, the cost for TEP would be almost equal compared with Lichtenstein.In conclusion, both TEP and Lichtenstein repair have advantages and disadvantages for the patient. Depending on local resources and expertise both methods can be used and recommended for primary inguinal hernia repair.
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