Objective: To determine the incidence of groin pain 1 year after inguinal herniorrhaphy and to assess the influence of chronic groin pain on function.
Summary background data: The reported incidence of chronic pain after inguinal herniorrhaphy varies from 0% to 37%. No cross-sectional cohort studies with high follow-up rates have addressed this problem, and there is a lack of assessment of the functional consequences of chronic groin pain after herniorrhaphy.
Methods: Two sets of self-administered questionnaires were mailed 1 year after surgery. The first established the incidence of chronic groin pain. The second characterized the pain and the effect of the pain on the function of those reporting pain. The study population comprised patients older than age 18 years registered in the Danish Hernia Database who underwent surgery between February 1, 1998, and March 31, 1998.
Results: The response rate to the first questionnaire was 80.8%. Pain in the groin area was reported by 28.7%, and 11.0% reported that pain was interfering with work or leisure activity. Older patients had a lower incidence of pain. There were no differences in the incidence of pain with regard to the different types of hernia, the different types of surgical repairs, or the different types of anesthesia. The second questionnaire was returned by 83%. Of these, 46 (4%) reported constant pain. The intensity of pain while at rest was moderate or severe in 40 (3%); with physical activity, pain was moderate or severe in 91 (8%). Impairment of specific daily activities as a result of pain was reported by 194 (16.6%). Pain characteristics were predominantly sensory, with a low use of affective terms.
Conclusion: One year after inguinal hernia repair, pain is common (28.7%) and is associated with functional impairment in more than half of those with pain. These factors should be addressed when discussing the need for surgical intervention for an inguinal hernia.