Background: Groin pain in athletes is caused by a wide range of musculoskeletal disorders. Occasionally, a palpable bulge at the external ring or ultrasound may not demonstrate a hernia. When athletes do not respond to conservative treatment, a "sports" hernia should be considered.
Methods: A retrospective review of 750 laparoscopic preperitoneal hernias was performed. A sports hernia was defined as a tear in the transversalis fascia that was not evident by preoperative physical exam. A 7 x 10-cm biologic mesh, Surgisis, was placed, uncut, over the myopectinate orifice and fixed with five tacks or fibrin glue. Patients were followed up at 2 and 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year.
Results: Ten professional and amateur athletes were found to have sports hernias. Operative time averaged 32 min. There were no major complications. All athletes returned to full activities in 4 weeks. Only one patient did not show improvement in his symptoms. No patient developed a recurrent hernia.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic exploration should be considered in athletes with chronic groin pain that does not improve after conventional treatments have failed. Furthermore, biologic mesh (Surgisis) should be considered for the repair of inguinal sports hernias.