Prophylactic ilioinguinal neurectomy in open inguinal hernia repair: a double-blind randomized controlled trial

Wilfred Lik-Man Mui, Calvin S H Ng, Terence Ming-Kit Fung, Frances Ka Yin Cheung, Chi-Ming Wong, Tze-Hin Ma, Man-Yee Yung Bn, Enders Kwok-Wai Ng
Annals of Surgery 2006, 244 (1): 27-33

OBJECTIVE: We conducted a double-blinded randomized controlled trial to investigate the short- to mid-term neurosensory effect of prophylactic ilioinguinal neurectomy during Lichtenstein repair of inguinal hernia.

METHOD: One hundred male patients between the age of 18 and 80 years with unilateral inguinal hernia undergoing Lichtenstein hernia repair were randomized to receive either prophylactic ilioinguinal neurectomy (group A) or ilioinguinal nerve preservation (group B) during operation. All operations were performed by surgeons specialized in hernia repair under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. The primary outcome was the incidence of chronic groin pain at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included incidence of groin numbness, postoperative sensory loss or change at the groin region, and quality of life measurement assessed by SF-36 questionnaire at 6 months. All follow-up and outcome measures were carried out by a designated occupational therapist at 1 and 6 months following surgery in a double-blinded manner.

RESULTS: The incidence of chronic groin pain at 6 months was significantly lower in group A than group B (8% vs. 28.6%; P = 0.008). No significant intergroup differences were found regarding the incidence of groin numbness, postoperative sensory loss or changes at the groin region, and quality of life measurement at 6 months after the operation.

CONCLUSIONS: Prophylactic ilioinguinal neurectomy significantly decreases the incidence of chronic groin pain after Lichtenstein hernia repair without added morbidities. It should be considered as a routine surgical step during the operation.

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