Background/purpose: Laparoscopic inguinal herniorrhaphy has been introduced recently as an alternative to conventional open repair in children. This study was undertaken to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and reproducibility of this minimally invasive approach.
Methods: A total of 933 laparoscopic inguinal herniorrhaphies were performed on 666 children (597 boys and 69 girls), ranging in age from 3 weeks to 14 years (median, 3.2 years). A 5-mm laparoscope was placed through an umbilical incision, and two 2-mm or 3-mm needle drivers were inserted through the lateral abdominal wall. The neck of the sac was closed with a 4-0 monofilament suture. The needle was inserted directly through the abdominal wall, and removed together with the trocar. Only the umbilical fascia was closed with an absorbable suture. No skin sutures were applied.
Results: A total of 911 indirect inguinal hernia sacs were closed (337 right, 172 left, 402 bilateral) and 22 direct inguinal hernias were repaired (14 boys, 3 girls; 11 right, 3 left, 4 bilateral). The median operating time was 22 minutes (range, unilateral, 7 to 45 min; bilateral, 9 to 51 min). With experience, this time gradually decreased. There were no intraoperative complications. The contralateral asymptomatic processus was unexpectedly open on the left side in 137 of the boys (23%) and 10 of the girls (15%), and on the right side in 131 of the boys (22%) and 21 of the girls (32%). In 16% of the children, the final procedure was modified on the basis of the anatomic findings. No hernia was found in 13 children (1.9%). The recurrence rate was 3.4% (follow-up time ranged from 2 months to 7 years). Hydroceles were observed in 4 children, and a subtle change in testicular position and size was noted in one boy.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic inguinal repair in children proved safe and reproducible, although the recurrence rate was slightly higher than with the open approach. However, laparoscopy allows easy and precise identification of the type of defect and its correction. In this series, the incidence of direct inguinal hernias was higher, and the incidence of a patent contralateral processus vaginalis was lower than previously reported.
Copyright 2002 by W.B. Saunders Company.