Operative management of "hockey groin syndrome": 12 years of experience in National Hockey League players

Surgery. 2001 Oct;130(4):759-64; discussion 764-6. doi: 10.1067/msy.2001.118093.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Groin / injuries*
  • Hockey*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuralgia / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology