Chronic pain after open inguinal hernia repair

Postgrad Med. 2016 Jan;128(1):69-75. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2016.1121090. Epub 2015 Dec 4.


Following the widespread use of mesh repairs, recurrence rates after inguinal hernia surgery have become acceptable and focus has shifted from recurrence to chronic pain. Although pain can be controlled with analgesics, chronic postsurgical pain is a major clinical problem, which can significantly influence the patient's quality of life. The rate of chronic pain after inguinal hernia mesh repair can reach 51.6%. The reasons for posthernioplasty chronic pain are often unclear. It has been linked to nerve injury and nerve entrapment, but there is also association between the rate of chronic pain and the type of mesh used for hernia repair. As there are >160 meshes available in the market, it is difficult to choose a mesh whose usage would result in the best outcome. Different mesh characteristics have been studied, among them weight of mesh has probably gained the most attention. The choice of adequate therapy for chronic groin pain after inguinal hernia repair is controversial. The European Hernia Society recommends that a multidisciplinary approach at a pain clinic should be considered for the treatment of chronic postoperative pain. Although surgical treatment of chronic posthernioplasty pain is limited because of the lack of relevant research data, resection of entrapped nerves, mesh removal in the case of mesh related pain or removal of fixation sutures can be beneficial for the patient with severe pain after inguinal hernia surgery. One drawback of published studies is the lack of consensus over definition of chronic pain, which makes it complicated to compare the results of different studies and to conduct meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Therefore, a uniform definition of chronic pain and its best assessment methods should be developed in order to conduct top quality multicenter randomized trials. Further research to develop meshes with optimal parameters is of vital importance and should be encouraged.

Keywords: Inguinal hernia; Lichtenstein hernioplasty; chronic pain; lightweight mesh; pore size; self-gripping mesh.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain* / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy* / instrumentation
  • Herniorrhaphy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Pain, Postoperative* / diagnosis
  • Pain, Postoperative* / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative* / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative* / therapy
  • Surgical Mesh / adverse effects