Background: Several studies have suggested that better results are obtained after laparoscopic repair of inguinal hernia than after conventional operation. This is most obvious for bilateral and recurrent hernias but less accepted for primary unilateral hernias.
Methods: This was a randomized clinical trial comparing transabdominal preperitoneal laparoscopic repair with the Shouldice technique in patients with primary unilateral hernia. Some 138 patients were randomized to laparoscopic hernia repair and 130 to open surgical repair.
Results: The complication rates in the two groups were similar. In the laparoscopic group the patients returned to work more rapidly with a median time of 13 versus 18 days (P < 0.005) and had a shorter period of analgesia intake with a median time of 2.1 versus 2.7 days (P < 0.02). The follow-up was 97.8 per cent complete. At a median of 12 months, four recurrences (2.9 per cent) were detected in the laparoscopic group and three (2.3 per cent) in the open group.
Conclusion: This study shows that in patients with a primary unilateral hernia laparoscopic repair results in less postoperative pain and a quicker recovery than open repair.