Background: "Athletic pubalgia" is a term often used to describe the insidious onset of groin pain in professional athletes. This pain may be caused by a range of musculoskeletal conditions. The diagnosis of occult or "sports" hernia must be considered in athletes who do not respond to conservative treatment modalities directed at these entities.
Patients and methods: Fifteen professional athletes were treated for sports hernia by a single surgeon between February 1994 and June 2000. Laparoscopic hernia repairs were performed using an extraperitoneal approach. Athletes presented with symptoms lasting several months to several years. Long-term follow-up was obtained by phone to assess overall patient satisfaction, efficacy of surgery, and effect on athletic performance.
Results: Nearly all (87%) of the athletes were able to return to full, unrestricted athletic activity in 4 weeks or less. Overall long-term satisfaction was high. Long-term follow-up revealed no adverse sequelae or recurrence of symptoms at a median of 46 months.
Conclusion: Laparoscopic preperitoneal hernia repair should be considered as a treatment modality in athletes presenting with chronic groin pain.