Introduction: For open and endoscopic inguinal hernia surgery, it has been demonstrated that low-volume surgeons with fewer than 25 and 30 procedures, respectively, per year are associated with significantly more recurrences than high-volume surgeons with 25 and 30 or more procedures, respectively, per year. This paper now explores the relationship between the caseload and the outcome based on the data from the Herniamed Registry.
Patients and methods: The prospective data of patients in the Herniamed Registry were analyzed using the inclusion criteria minimum age of 16 years, male patient, primary unilateral inguinal hernia, TEP or TAPP techniques and availability of data on 1-year follow-up. In total, 16,290 patients were enrolled between September 1, 2009, and February 1, 2014. Of the participating surgeons, 466 (87.6 %) had carried out fewer than 25 endoscopic/laparoscopic operations (low-volume surgeons) and 66 (12.4 %) surgeons 25 or more operations (high-volume surgeons) per year.
Results: Univariable (1.03 vs. 0.73 %; p = 0.047) and multivariable analysis [OR 1.494 (1.065-2.115); p = 0.023] revealed that low-volume surgeons had a significantly higher recurrence rate compared with the high-volume surgeons, although that difference was small. Multivariable analysis also showed that pain on exertion was negatively affected by a lower caseload <25 [OR 1.191 (1.062-1.337); p = 0.003]. While here, too, the difference was small, the fact that in that group there was a greater proportion of patients with small hernia defect sizes may have also played a role since the risk in that group was higher. In this analysis, no evidence was found that pain at rest [OR 1.052 (0.903-1.226); p = 0.516] or chronic pain requiring treatment [OR 1.108 (0.903-1.361); p = 0.326] were influenced by the surgeon volume. As confirmed by previously published studies, the data in the Herniamed Registry also demonstrated that the endoscopic/laparoscopic inguinal hernia surgery caseload impacted the outcome. However, given the overall high-quality level the differences between a "low-volume" surgeon and a "high-volume" surgeon were small. That was due to the use of a standardized technique, structured training as well as continuous supervision of trainees and surgeons with low annual caseload.
Keywords: Inguinal hernia; Outcome; Surgeon volume; TAPP; TEP.