Recurrent inguinal hernia? better laparoscopy

Recurrent inguinal hernia: what is it?

L'inguinal hernia belongs to the large family of hernias of the abdominal wall and represents one of the most frequent diseases of surgical interest worldwide: it is estimated that hernias in general affect 5 to 7 percent of the population, and of these about 75 percent are inguinal hernias. In other words, about 2,736,000 people in Italy are affected by inguinal hernias. The majority of these patients end up undergoing surgery, which, in the first instance, is a relatively uncomplicated procedure that is performed under local anesthesia and requires only a few hours of hospitalization. However, in not a small percentage of cases, the repair, for a variety of reasons (ranging from errors in technique to the patient's failure to follow the rules imposed by the surgeon in the postoperative), fails; the hernia reforms: we speak, in this case, of recurrent inguinal hernia.

Recurrence: a frequent problem in inguinal hernias

Modern surgical techniques and the use of prostheses have substantially reduced the rate of recurrence after inguinal hernia surgery; however, a recent study, conducted on more than 46. 000 patients in Denmark, showed that the incidence of inguinal hernia recurrence continues to affect about 4 percent of patients; less than the double-digit percentages observed before the advent of mesh: but, taking into account the numbers reported earlier, theoretically in Italy alone,inguinal herniarecurrence affects more than 100,000 patients-a not a small city!

The problem then facing the Surgeon is: what is the correct treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia?

What is the correct treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia?

Most Surgeons treat therelapsed ing uinal hernia exactly as they had treated the primary inguinal hernia: that is, they operate on it anteriorly, redoing a surgical incision on the previous one, and trying to put a "patch" on it as best they can-very often "inventing" on the spot some variation of the most commonly used surgical techniques (which, in the act, also seems like a good solution). This, unfortunately, is conceptually wrong, as well as going against the indications of the main guidelines available today.

Operating a recurrent hernia with the traditional incision when the primary hernia has already been operated on anteriorly means re-injuring tissue over which the surgeon had already passed during the previous operation, in an area where the anatomy has been profoundly altered by the surgery undergone by the patient anyway, and where there are very intense fibrotic phenomena due to the presence of the mesh: the risk of vascular and nerve injury and postoperative pain increases, and by a great deal; the wall of the inguinal region is further weakened, and the risk of recurrence increases. The patient risks being entangled in an endless and painful odyssey.

Hernia recurrence: better laparoscopy

Le guidelines, in this case drawn up by the European Hernia Society, speak clearly: Recurrent inguinal hernia, guidelines, European Hernia Society

"If previously anterior: consider open preperitoneal mesh or endoscopic approach (if espertise is present)" - i.e., if the patient has previously been operated on anteriorly, open repair with mesh in the preperitoneal position (e.g., Stoppa's or Wantz's techniques) or the endoscopic technique are indicated, provided expertise is present, i.e., there is a Surgeon experienced in this procedure.

In fact, in Italy - for a thousand reasons, which it is not the case to analyze here - there are few Surgeons able to try their hand at inguinal hernia repair laparoscopically, especially if it is arecurrent inguinal hernia (and perhaps even fewer who are able to perform an operation with Stoppa or Wantz technique). These are difficult cases, with altered anatomy in any case (even if, "going from the inside," i.e., from the inner surface of the inguinal region, one is working in seemingly "virgin" territory), which can only be addressed by experienced surgeons. But the advantages are clear: one has the possibility of repairing the herniated defect with a significantly larger mesh than is used in traditional hernia surgery, placed in a "healthy" area than where the surgeon had previously worked; and not infrequently, one may find that one is actually not dealing with arecurring inguinal hernia, but with a new hernia, perhaps unnoticed during the previous surgery, or perhaps formed later; and that, lo and behold, there is also a hernia on the other side, in the other inguinal region, which neither the patient nor the surgeon had noticed, and which can be repaired during the same surgery, before it begins to bother. Not to mention that postoperative pain is significantly less than with traditional surgery, and the patient can return to his or her activities much more quickly.

The video of the surgical technique

And here, finally, is a video of a recent surgery I did for recurrent inguinal hernia, performed laparoscopically (T.A.P.P. technique, Trans Abdominal Pre Peritoneal). This was a utrasectomy patient in his fourth recurrent hernia (!!! That is, three other surgeons had already operated on him by going through the anterior route, evidently without great results). Not an easy surgery, as expected, but successfully concluded to the patient's satisfaction. The mesh, as prescribed by the guidelines, is placed in the preperitoneal space, but without the large incisions required for Stoppa or Wantz techniques (in fact, the patient will be left with three small scars, two 10 mm and one 5 mm...).

The patient was discharged the day after surgery, and had no discomfort or complications in the postoperative period. These results are obtained in the vast majority of cases of patients operated on laparoscopically. But - I repeat - laparoscopic inguinal hernioplasty , especially in cases of recurrent inguinal hernia, is not for everyone, and must be performed by an experienced surgeon.

Enjoy your viewing!

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Dr. Salvatore Cuccomarino
Cuccomarino, MD
Medical Surgeon Specialist in General Surgery
Corso Galileo Ferraris 3
Phone 0110438161