Background: We report our clinical experience with 403 inguinal hernias in 279 children. They were treated via a purely laparoscopic approach using 2-mm instruments, obviating the need for a groin incision.
Methods: Laparoscopic herniorrhaphy was performed in children ages 4 days to 15 years. A 5-mm laparoscope was inserted through the umbilicus, and two 2-mm needle holders were inserted through the inferolateral abdominal wall. The open inner inguinal rings were closed by placing Z-sutures of monofilamentous nonabsorbable material.
Results: The mean operating time was 14 min for unilateral hernias and 21 min for bilateral hernias. We found 3.9% direct hernias. Hydroceles occurred in 1.7% of patients, testicular atrophy was noted in one patient, and no hernia was found in 2.3%. In girls with inguinal hernias, a contralateral asymptomatic patent processus vaginalis (PPV) was found in 45.2%, regardless of whether the hernia was on the right or the left side. In boys with inguinal hernias, contralateral PPVs were found on the right side in 21.9% and on the left in 8%. There were no major complications. One conversion to an open procedure was necessary because of a dilated bowel. The mean follow-up period was 23 months. There were 2.7% hernia recurrences; this rate was slightly higher than that seen with the open technique. The incidence of direct inguinal hernias was higher than has been previously reported.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic herniorrhaphy allows the surgeon to identify the type of defect and proceed with immediate treatment. This technique is safe, reproducible, and technically easy for experienced laparoscopists. Bilaterality is of no concern. The cosmetic results are excellent; and in patients with recurrence of a hernia, this procedure is preferable to the open technique.