Background: Endoscopic totally extraperitoneal inguinal hernioplasty (TEP) is an accepted technique for the repair of recurrent and bilateral inguinal hernia, but its role in the management of unilateral primary inguinal hernia remains controversial. The current randomized trial was undertaken to compare the postoperative and 1-year outcomes of day-case TEP and open Lichtenstein hernioplasty for unilateral primary inguinal hernia in males.
Methods: From January 2002 to January 2004, a total of 200 male patients were randomized to undergo either day-case unilateral TEP or open Lichtenstein hernioplasty under general anesthesia. The primary outcome measures included postoperative pain score, time until return to work, incidence of chronic groin pain, and recurrence rate 1 year after the operation.
Results: All TEP procedures were successfully performed without conversion. The mean operation time for TEP (50 +/- 13.2 min) was significantly shorter than for open Lichtenstein hernioplasty (58 +/- 17.6 min) (p < 0.001). The pain score at rest was significantly lower in the TEP group than in the open group on postoperative days 0, 1, 4, 5, and 6. On the average, the patients returned to work 8.6 days after TEP and 14 days after Lichtenstein hernioplasty (p = 0.006). Postoperative recovery and morbidity rates were otherwise comparable between the two groups. The incidence of chronic groin pain 1 year after TEP (9.9%) was significantly lower than after open surgery (21.7%) (p = 0.032). None of the patients in either group showed recurrence at the last follow-up assessment.
Conclusions: Day-case TEP was superior to open Lichtenstein hernioplasty for the repair of unilateral primary inguinal hernia in males. The benefits of day-case TEP included less postoperative pain, a faster return to work, and a lower incidence of chronic groin pain.