Ilioinguinal nerve excision in open mesh repair of inguinal hernia—results of a randomized clinical trial: simple solution for a difficult problem?

Fatemeh Malekpour, Seyyed Hadi Mirhashemi, Esmaeil Hajinasrolah, Nourollah Salehi, Ali Khoshkar, Ali Asghar Kolahi
American Journal of Surgery 2008, 195 (6): 735-40

BACKGROUND: Inguinodynia is the second most common complication occurring after inguinal hernia repair. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of ilioinguinal nerve excision, a concept previously proposed to be performed during open hernia mesh repair, on postsurgical pain and hyposthesia.

METHODS: A double-blind randomized clinical trial was performed on 121 patients undergoing open anterior mesh repair of inguinal hernia in 1 center from April 2005 through June 2006. The ilioinguinal nerve was excised in half of the patients and preserved in the other half. Pain and hyposthesia at POD 1, 1 and 6 months after surgery, and 1 year after surgery was evaluated in both groups using a visual analog scale. Results were compared using chi-square analysis.

RESULTS: Of the total number of 121 patients who entered the study, with an age range of 18 to 86 years (mean +/- SD 45 +/- 18), 115 (95%) were male. Sixty-one were in the nerve-excision group, and 60 were in the nerve-preservation group. One hundred patients were followed-up until the end of the first year. Using the visual analog scale to detect pain severity on postsurgical day 1, mean scores in the nerve-excision and nerve-preservation groups were 2.2 +/- .8 (range 1 to 4) versus 2.8 +/- .7 (range 2 to 4.5), respectively (P < .001). At 1 month after surgery, these scores were .7 +/- .7 (range 0 to 3) versus 1.5 +/- .7 (range 0 to 3.5), respectively (P < .001). Between 6 months and 1 year after surgery, median scores of zero were detected in both groups. After postsurgical day 1, the median score of hyposthesia was near zero in both groups. Thirteen patients developed chronic inguinodynia (13%), 10 of whom were in the nerve-preservation group. Chronic postsurgical inguinodynia was seen in 6% of patients in the ilioinguinal nerve-excision and 21% of the patients in the ilioinguinal nerve-preservation group (P = .033).

COMMENTS: Neurectomy decreases postsurgical pain after elective inguinal hernia repair. Although chronic inguinodynia was less frequent in our study than reported by many previous studies, it is still wise to recommend ilioinguinal neurectomy in patients undergoing anterior inguinal hernia mesh repair.

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