Background: According to a Cochrane review, laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair compares favourably with open mesh repair, but few data exist from surgical practice outside departments with a special interest in hernia surgery. This study compared nationwide reoperation rates after laparoscopic and Lichtenstein repair, adjusting for factors predisposing to recurrence.
Methods: Some 3606 consecutive laparoscopic repairs were compared with 39 537 Lichtenstein repairs that were prospectively recorded in a nationwide registry between 1998 and 2003. Patients were subgrouped according to type of hernia: primary or recurrent and unilateral or bilateral. Overall reoperation rates and 95 per cent confidence intervals were calculated. Long-term reoperation rates were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.
Results: The overall reoperation rates after laparoscopic and Lichtenstein repair of unilateral primary indirect hernia (0 versus 1.0 per cent), primary direct hernia (1.1 versus 3.1 per cent), unilateral recurrent hernia (4.6 versus 4.8 per cent) and bilateral recurrent hernia (2.6 versus 7.6 per cent) did not differ. However, laparoscopic repair of a bilateral primary hernia was associated with a higher reoperation rate than Lichtenstein repair (4.8 versus 3.0 per cent) (P = 0.017).
Conclusion: Laparoscopic repair compared favourably with Lichtenstein repair for primary indirect and direct hernias, and unilateral and bilateral recurrent hernias, but was inferior for primary bilateral hernias.