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JOURNAL ARTICLE

[The history of treatment of groin hernia]

Janusz Legutko, Radosław Pach, Rafał Solecki, Andrzej Matyja, Jan Kulig
Folia Medica Cracoviensia 2008, 49 (1-2): 57-74
19140492
Hernia (Greek kele/hernios--bud or offshoot) was present in the human history from its very beginning. The role of surgery was restricted to the treatment of huge umbilical and groin hernias and life-threatening incarcerated hernias. The treatment of groin hernia can be divided into five eras. The oldest epoch was ancient era from ancient Egypt to 15th century. The Egyptian Papirus of Ebers contains description of a hernia: swelling that comes out during coughing. Most essential knowledge concerning hernias in ancient times derives from Galen. This knowledge with minor modifications was valid during Middle Ages and eventually in the Renaissance the second era of hernia treatment began. Herniology flourished mainly due to many anatomical discoveries. In spite of many important discoveries from 18th to 19th century the treatment results were still unsatisfactory. Astley Cooper stated that no disease treated surgically involves from surgeon so broad knowledge and skills as hernia and its many variants. Introduction of anesthesia and antiseptic procedures constituted the beginning of modern hernia surgery known as era of hernia repair under tension (19th to middle 20th century). Three substantial rules were introduced to hernia repair technique: antiseptic and aseptic procedures. high ligation of hernia sac and narrowing of the internal inguinal ring. In spite of the progress the treatment results were poor. Recurrence rate during four years was ca. 100% and postoperative mortality gained even 7%. The treatment results were satisfactory after new surgical technique described by Bassini was implemented. Bassini introduced the next rule of hernia repair ie. reconstruction of the posterior wall of inguinal canal. The next landmark in inguinal hernia surgery was the method described by Canadian surgeon E. Shouldice. He proposed imbrication of the transverse fascia and strengthening of the posterior wall of inguinal canal by four layers of fasciae and aponeuroses of oblique muscles. These modifications decreased recurrence rate to 3%. The next epoch in the history of hernia surgery lasting to present days is referred to as era of tensionless hernia repair. The tension of sutured layers was reduced by incisions of the rectal abdominal muscle sheath or using of foreign materials. The turning point in hernia surgery was discovery of synthetic polymers by Carothers in 1935. The first tensionless technique described by Lichtenstein was based on strengthening of the posterior wall of inguinal canal with prosthetic material. Lichtenstein published the data on 1,000 operations with Marlex mesh without any recurrence in 5 years after surgery. Thus fifth rule of groin hernia repair was introduced--tensionless repair. Another treatment method was popularized by Rene Stoppa, who used Dacron mesh situated in preperitoneal space without fixing sutures. First such operation was performed in 1975, and reported recurrence rates were quite low (1.4%). The next type of repair procedure was sticking of a synthetic plug into inguinal canal. Lichtenstein in 1968 used Marlex mesh plug (in shape of a cigarette) in the treatment of inguinal and femoral hernias. The mesh was fixated with single sutures. The next step was introduction of a Prolene Hernia System which enabled repair of the tissue defect in three spaces: preperitoneal, above transverse fascia and inside inguinal canal. Laproscopic treatment of groin hernias began in 20th century. The first laparoscopic procedure was performed by P. Fletcher in 1979. In 1990 Schultz plugged inguinal canal with polypropylene mesh. Later such methods like TAPP and TEP were introduced. The disadvantages of laparoscopic approach were: high cost and risk connected with general anesthesia. In conclusion it may be stated that history of groin hernia repair evolved from life-saving procedures in case of incarcerated hernias to elective operations performed within the limits of 1 day surgery.

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