Randomized clinical trial of non-mesh versus mesh repair of primary inguinal hernia

W W Vrijland, M P van den Tol, R W Luijendijk, W C J Hop, J J V Busschbach, D C D de Lange, D van Geldere, A B Rottier, P A Vegt, J N M IJzermans, J Jeekel
British Journal of Surgery 2002, 89 (3): 293-7

BACKGROUND: The optimum method for inguinal hernia repair has not yet been determined. The recurrence rate for non-mesh methods varies between 0.2 and 33 per cent. The value of tension-free repair with prosthetic mesh remains to be confirmed. The aim of this study was to compare mesh and non-mesh suture repair of primary inguinal hernias with respect to clinical outcome, quality of life and cost in a multicentre randomized trial in general hospitals.

METHODS: Between September 1993 and January 1996, all patients scheduled for repair of a unilateral primary inguinal hernia were randomized to non-mesh or mesh repair. The patients were followed up at 1 week and at 1, 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months. Clinical outcome, quality of life and costs were registered.

RESULTS: Three hundred patients were randomized of whom 11 were excluded. Three-year recurrence rates differed significantly: 7 per cent for non-mesh repair (n = 143) and 1 per cent for mesh repair (n = 146) (P = 0.009). There were no differences in clinical variables, quality of life and costs.

CONCLUSION: Mesh repair of primary inguinal hernia repair is superior to non-mesh repair with regard to hernia recurrence and is cost-effective. Postoperative complications, pain and quality of life did not differ between groups.

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