The transinguinal preperitoneal hernia correction vs Lichtenstein's technique; is TIPP top?

G G Koning, D Koole, M A C de Jongh, J P de Schipper, M H J Verhofstad, H J M Oostvogel, P W H E Vriens
Hernia: the Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery 2011, 15 (1): 19-22

BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is the main drawback of the Lichtenstein procedure for inguinal hernia repair, with a reported incidence of 15-40%. The transinguinal pre-peritoneal (TIPP) technique seems to be associated with less chronic pain, comparable to the total extra peritoneal (TEP) technique. The aim of this study was to evaluate 3 years of TIPP and Lichtenstein experience since the start of our Hernia Center Brabant in January 2006.

METHODS: Patient records of unilateral primary inguinal anterior hernia corrections (TIPP and Lichtenstein) performed since the opening of Hernia Center Brabant (2006-2008) were evaluated in a retrospective study. ASA class 4 and 5, <18 years, recurrences and bilateral hernias were excluded. In the TIPP technique, a Polysoft™ Hernia Patch was placed into the preperitoneal space using an anterior protocol led approach. The Lichtenstein technique was performed as described by Amid [Amid et al (1996) Eur J Surg 162:447-453] and modified with a soft mesh. One of the hernia surgeons decided peroperatively which technique to perform. Baseline characteristics and postoperative complications were assessed retrospectively. The attempted follow up period was 6 months. Chronic pain was assessed in both groups as mild (VAS 1-3), moderate (VAS 4-6) or severe (VAS 7-10). Chronic pain was defined in both groups as any pain sensation lasting longer than 3 months postoperatively, or when local injection of analgesia was necessary. Patients who did not come back because of chronic pain after regular follow up were regarded as free of pain.

RESULTS: A total of 496 patients were included in this study; 225 TIPP and 271 Lichtenstein anterior inguinal hernia operations were analyzed. Data from one TIPP-patient were lost. Both groups were comparable with regard to baseline characteristics regarding age (p = 0.059), gender (p = 0.478) and ASA-classification (p = 0.104). TIPP: mean age 52.7 years, ASA-classification I: 54%, II: 36% and III: 5.3%. A total of 7.6% complications were assessed; recurrence (n = 1), bleeding (and re-operation) (n = 4); 10 patients (4.4%) experienced chronic pain. Persisting sensation loss occurred in 0.9%. Lichtenstein: mean age 57.3 years, ASA-classification I: 51%, II: 38% and III: 11%. A total of 8.5% complications were assessed; recurrence (n = 3), bleeding (and re-operation) (n = 3); 11 Lichtenstein patients (4.1%) experienced chronic pain. Persisting sensation loss occurred in 2.2%. Limitations of this retrospective study were incomplete follow up (31.3% had only one post operative visit 14 days after surgery) and these patients were further regarded as free of pain. Therefore, possible under-reporting of chronic pain could be present. The study was not double blind.

CONCLUSION: This retrospective study design revealed no significantly better results for the TIPP procedure as compared to the Lichtenstein technique. The incidence of chronic pain reported in this retrospective study has been low in both groups since the opening of the Hernia Center Brabant. These results form the basis for a prospective randomized clinical trial comparing the TIPP and Lichtenstein techniques.

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