Diagnosing the occult contralateral inguinal hernia

R H Koehler
Surgical Endoscopy 2002, 16 (3): 512-20

BACKGROUND: The incidence of bilateral inguinal hernias reported for total extra peritoneal (TEP) laparoscopic hernia repair, which reaches 45%, appears to be higher than that seen in studies of transabdominal laparoscopic and open repair. Given the unique ability of diagnostic laparoscopy to diagnose occult contralateral hernias (OCH) accurately, this study looked at how concurrent transabdominal diagnostic laparoscopy (TADL) would influence planned TEP repairs.

METHODS: A prospective study oF 100 consecutive TEP cases was conducted. All patients had diagnostic laparoscopy via a 5-mm 45 degrees scope through an umbilical incision with 15 mmHg of pneumoperitoneum, followed by laparoscopic TEPrepair. A contralateral occult hernia was diagnosed and repaired if a true peritoneal eventration through the inguinal region was observed.

RESULTS: Among the 100 patients, preoperative diagnosis suggested 31 bilateral hernias (31%), whereas TADL confirmed 25 bilateral hernias (25%). Of these 25 bilateral hernias, TADL confirmed 16 that had been diagnosed preoperatively (64%), but excluded 15 contralateral hernias that were incorrectly diagnosed (37%). Transabdominal diagnostic laparoscopy found nine OCHs, representing 36% of all bilateral hernias and 13% of the 69 preoperatively determined unilateral hernias. The preoperative physician examination false-negative rate for contralateral hernias was 36%, and the false-positive rate was 37%. In 26 cases (26%), TADL changed the operative approach.

CONCLUSIONS: In this study, patients believed to have unilateral inguinal hernias had OCHs in 13% of cases when examined by TADL. The actual bilateral hernia incidence was 25%, with a 37% false-positive rate for preoperatively diagnosed bilateral hernias. The high rate of bilateral hernias reported by the TEP approach alone suggests that some OCH findings may be an artifact of the TEP dissection. However, failure to search for an OCH could result in up to 13% of patients subsequently requiring a second repair. Because some surgeons are concerned about unnecessary TEP dissection of the asymptomatic contralateral side, the approach described here may offer a solution to accurate diagnosis of the contralateral inguinal region during planned laparoscopic TEP hernia repair.

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