Combined open and laparoscopic approach to chronic pain following open inguinal hernia repair

M J Rosen, Y W Novitsky, W S Cobb, K W Kercher, B Todd Heniford
Hernia: the Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery 2006, 10 (1): 20-4

INTRODUCTION: Chronic groin pain is the most common long-term complication after open inguinal hernia repair. Traditional surgical management of the associated neuralgia consists of injection therapy followed by groin exploration, mesh removal, and nerve transection. The resultant hernia defect may be difficult to repair from an anterior approach. We evaluate the outcomes of a combined laparoscopic and open approach for the treatment of chronic groin pain following open inguinal herniorrhaphy.

METHODS: All patients who underwent groin exploration for chronic neuralgia after a prior open inguinal hernia repair were prospectively analyzed. Patient demographics, type of prior hernia repair, and prior nonoperative therapies were recorded. The operation consisted of a standard three trocar laparoscopic transabdominal preperitoneal hernia repair, followed by groin exploration, mesh removal, and nerve transection. Outcome measures included recurrent groin pain, numbness, hernia recurrence, and complications.

RESULTS: Twelve patients (11 male and 1 female) with a mean age of 41 years (range 29-51) underwent combined laparoscopic and open treatment for chronic groin pain. Ten patients complained of unilateral neuralgia, one patient had bilateral complaints, and one patient complained of orchalgia. All patients failed at least two attempted percutaneous nerve blocks. Prior repairs included Lichtenstein (n=9), McVay (n=1), plug and patch (n=1), and Shouldice (n=1). There were no intraoperative complications or wound infections. With a minimum of 6 weeks follow up, all patients were significantly improved. One patient complained of intermittent minor discomfort that required no further therapy. Two patients had persistent numbness in the ilioinguinal nerve distribution but remained satisfied with the procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: A combined laparoscopic and open approach for postherniorrhaphy groin pain results in good to excellent patient satisfaction with no perioperative morbidity. It may be the preferred technique for the definitive management of chronic neuralgia after prior open hernia repair.

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