Background: At the elite level of hockey, groin injuries can threaten a player's career. The aim of this review is to describe the clinical presentation and evaluate our operative approach to "hockey groin syndrome" in National Hockey League (NHL) players.
Methods: Between November 1989 and June 2000, 22 NHL players with debilitating groin pain underwent operative exploration. A repair, including ablation of the ilioinguinal nerve and reinforcement of the external oblique aponeurosis with a Goretex (W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc, Flagstaff, Ariz) mesh, was performed. Medical records were reviewed, and the players or their trainers were contacted by telephone after a mean follow-up period of 31.2 months to assess function, symptoms, and overall satisfaction.
Results: All patients had tearing of the external oblique aponeurosis, with branches of the ilioinguinal nerve emerging from the torn areas. At follow-up, 18 players (82%) had no pain, whereas 4 (18%) reported mild, intermittent pain. All 22 patients returned to playing hockey, with 19 (85%) able to continue their careers in the NHL.
Conclusions: The "hockey groin syndrome," marked by tearing of the external oblique aponeurosis and entrapment of the ilioinguinal nerve, is a cause of groin pain in professional hockey players. Ilioinguinal nerve ablation and reinforcement of the external oblique aponeurosis successfully treats this incapacitating entity.