Is herniography useful?

Hernia. 2006 Mar;10(1):66-9. doi: 10.1007/s10029-005-0044-4. Epub 2005 Dec 9.


Herniography has been used for 25 years in the diagnosis of occult herniation but has not gained widespread acceptance in the UK, despite studies confirming its high sensitivity and specificity for occult hernias and an excellent record of safety and patient acceptability. The traditional approach in the UK to suspected occult groin herniation has been surgical exploration. This study examined the use of herniography in a single district general hospital to assess its impact in limiting unnecessary groin explorations and allowing discharge of patients without hernias. The case notes of 90 successive patients referred for herniography by the department of general surgery in a single UK district general hospital over an 18-month period were reviewed. Eighty-seven completed examinations were analysed in which 23 hernias were diagnosed in 20 patients. Thirteen patients have undergone hernia repair with resolution of symptoms. There were no false positive examinations, although two inguinal hernias were incorrectly diagnosed radiologically as femoral hernias; there were two false negative examinations where additional hernias were found at laparoscopic repair. There were no reported complications. Twenty-four patients were discharged directly from the surgical clinic after a negative herniogram. Thirty patients were referred to other specialities. No patient had undergone groin exploration after a negative herniogram. Herniography is a useful tool in assessing obscure groin pain and potential occult herniation. It can reliably rule out the presence of a hernia and avoid the need for surgical exploration. Many patients with a negative herniogram can be reassured and discharged, whilst others may be referred on to other specialities safe in the knowledge that an occult hernia has been excluded.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hernia, Femoral / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies